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Thorn Township Trustee takes initiative

THORNVILLE – Confusion over who is responsible for a road construction bill caused tension between Thorn Township Trustees and the Perry County Commissioners.

All three commissioners attended the trustees’ April 23 meeting to discuss rehabilitating Thornport’s roads following the installation of sewer lines and to discuss a bill for nearly $3,000 worth of street paving that the commissioners said was unauthorized.

“We’ve got a problem,” said Commissioner Thad Cooperrider, who said Thorn Township Rick Wilson permitted a contractor to widen a Thornport street without a resolution to back up the additional expense, which totaled about $2,866. “Township trustees can’t spend county money,” he said.

Wilson said it was his understanding that the commissioners, the trustees, and contractor agreed that the township had $30,000 to use toward the project at its discretion. He said he was present when the contractor was repaving the road and everyone at the site agreed the road should be widened. Wilson believed the extra expense would come from the $30,000 and he fully expected the township to receive the $2,866 bill.

The commissioners agreed the $30,000 was for the township’s use, but told Wilson that the township needed to inform the commissioners before using any of it and all the trustees should be informed of any additional expense. “You can’t just tell someone to start. You spent money without authorization to spend money,” said Cooperrider, who worried the situation may prompt a state audit. He was upset about receiving a bill with no authorization to pay it.

Trustee Chair Tim Phipps said he understood where Wilson “was coming from” when he told the contractor to do the work and thought the matter of who pays the bill should be deferred to the county prosecutor.

Wilson said after the meeting that it made perfect sense to widen the road when the paving equipment was already there. He wondered why the commissioners waited until now to bring up the issue when the bill was dated Nov. 7, 2007. “I just think it was poor communication between the trustees and the commissioners,” said Wilson, who confirmedthat he believed the trustees were to receive the bill.

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