Trustees approve sidewalk program


By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

The Prairie Township trustees unanimously approved the 2018 sidewalk program at a recent board meeting. The program, which offers loans to township residents to repair sidewalks, has been taking place for more than a decade.

“We have $100,000 allocated for this program,” said Tracy Hatmaker, township administrator. “Through the program, residents can receive an interest-free loan that can be paid back over 10 years.”

According to Hatmaker, the cost for the sidewalk repairs is added to the resident’s property taxes. However, if the resident sells their home before the 10 years, they would need to pay back the loan before the final sale of the home.

Previously, the program was voluntary, however now the township requires some residents to repair their sidewalks.

“The program is a combination of voluntary and ordered to upgrade sidewalks,” Hatmaker said. “We will do a township-wide survey of sidewalks to see what upgrades must be made. We also will focus on the Lincoln Village North neighborhood as this is where the oldest sidewalks in the township are.”

The cost to repair the sidewalks vary from property to property, depending on how damaged the sidewalk is, as well as how much sidewalk is on the property.

The trustees approved hiring Berkshire Boys, Inc. to be the contractor for the sidewalk program, saying the contractor once again provided the lowest bid on the project.

In other news, the board approved the 2018 contract for Franklin County Sheriff’s Office to continue to provide police service to the township. The approved contract was for $888,471, a 4 percent increase over 2017. In 2017, the contract was for $853,471.

“We have seen an 11.4 percent increase over the past five years with our sheriff’s contract,” Hatmaker said. “The main reason for these increases is related to wages and benefits. However, sometimes vehicles need replaced as well.”

The township’s service with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office includes two cars on township streets. One of these cars patrols 24 hours a day seven days a week, the other car patrols 16 hours a day seven days a week.

The deputies also provides backup as needed, as well as has other cars in the area when available.

“At this point we know we are way below what the costs would be if we had our own police department,” Hatmaker said. “With the detectives, backup, dispatching and other cars in the area we are not paying for, we are getting a great level of service for the amount we are paying for.”

Hatmaker added that it is a requirement that the township has their own police service or contracts service with law enforcement to be a limited home rule government, so keeping this service is essential.

“We would like to stay below that $1 million point for as long as possible,” Hatmaker said. “We also have worked with them on cost control measures so that costs don’t rapidly accelerate.”

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