Co. Council meets: highway work planned; sheriff’s funds questioned

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The Ohio County Council held its monthly meeting on Monday night, and discussed several different items, including a report on upcoming and planned work on Ohio County roads.

Ohio County Highway Superintendent Ron York reported plans to Ohio County Council for blacktopping Salem Ridge Road from SR 262 to Thuermer Hollow.

York opened by telling council that the county should be getting close to receiving FEMA money from work done in 2012 (within five years). He would use that money for the project should it arrive. It is estimated at $384,000.

The highway department has been seeing the effects of decreased riverboat gaming revenues.

According to York, there is $150,000 in chip and seal with road work at a cost of around $13-14,000 per mile. That is compared to $60,000 per mile for paving.

He asked council to consider possible help of $30-100,000 for the project if FEMA funds don’t arrive. If the Salem Ridge project doesn’t go, then Hartford Pike and off roads would be targeted. Work would have to be done between June and August.

York also expressed concern about pay raises received by sheriff deputies.

He questioned it when he had to cut his budget 30-percent (about $375,000) and sheriff gets $2,000 more after the budget had been completed.

Councilman Dill Dorrell explained that sheriff Glen Potts had entered a contract with Switzerland County to house prisoners for $35 a day instead of $45, with the stipulation that the extra money goes back to the sheriff to increase deputy pay.

The $10 was transferred from the jail riverboat fund to special line items in the sheriff budget for pay.

It was not a pay raise but treated as a bonus, county attorney Lane Siekman noted.

Ohio County has lost many deputies to other counties even one deputy left for better pay at the highway department. Potts told York he could tell the person he could come back. He has an opening.

Councilman Dill Dorrell compared deputies and highway workers. There is one deputy over eight years service at $16.92/hour. Those at three years make $16.65, while most earn $15.95 for just over one year.

Four county laborers make $16.72 and three make $17.49 per hour.

York said, “My only problem is raises in the middle of the year.”

The sheriff contract has saved the county $8,200 during January and February. Potts said the money could “go to Switzerland County or us.”

York asked what happens if less arrests are made. Potts later responded it would save $35 each (since money has been budgeted for jail expenses).

Legislative influence

Dorrell, county liaison, said HB 1540 is okay for now. The county will still get casino admission tax but wagering tax is different.

A bill to bring more local road and streets is scheduled, but no status is available.

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In miscellaneous business:

– Council President Tammy Elbright reported that the senior meal site will reopen April 9th at Hoosier Boy.

– She sent thank you notes to state representatives for their work during riverboat gaming hearings. She expressed credit to Lane Siekman and Jon Bond also.

She received a letter back from Jud McMillin.

- Terry Elbright was reappointed to the ABC (Alcohol Beverage Commission) board.

– Council members will attend the May 13th AIC (Association of Counties) meeting at Belterra Casino.

- Tim Hillman