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County wrestles with priorities for money


LaGrange County Council members heard the first round of requests for funding at Monday’s meeting. LaGrange County Highway Superintendent Jeff Brill brought a request for funding of $316,821 to buy two county highway vehicles. One of the trucks will be a tandem-axle truck with a dump bed and the other a single-axle truck with dump bed.

    Brill explained that the county has received base bids for the two chassis of $203,821 from Norris Truck Service. The balance of the funds will be used for beds, blades and hydraulic systems for the trucks, which will be installed by the maintenance department at the county highway garage.

    “There was no money budgeted for new trucks in this year’s budget,” Brill stated. “You asked me to come back with a request and the statement was made that ‘we will try to find the money then.’” Brill indicated that the bids received can be held for a couple of months.

    Brill also told council members that he has spent $28,000 in repairs for the 1998 Volvo trucks so far this year. He noted that it will cost close to $20,000 each for engine repairs should that become necessary. “These trucks were all bought at one time and we need to start thinking about replacing them also,” he said. Brill indicated that he has a fleet of 24 trucks and it would be prudent to replace two each year.

    Commissioner George Bachman asked if it would be possible to have a joint meeting of the council and commissioners to discuss and prioritize spending for the county and to make a decision where the funds may come from for various projects. Mention was made of the Major Moves Fund and the Cumulative Capital Fund as sources of money.

    Mention was made of the project to upgrade CR 200N in the area of CR 400W. The estimated $3 million in road work would level some of the hills in the area and improve the road generally. There will be a need to buy some additional right-of-ways in certain spots.

    There has been a presentation on upgraded 911 communications equipment that will cost over $100,000 as well as a suggested update on GIS equipment and software. The county is also under a mandate to bring all county-owned property into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An estimate of $45,000 has been suggested for the engineering costs associated with inspection and identification of all items that will need to be addressed.

    “I will not be at all surprised if the bill for this exceeds $1 million,” said Bachman.

    No date was set for the joint meeting. Normally, commissioners issue the call for such a gathering.