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Trustees considering new road & bridge levy

MILLERSPORT – “We have three roads going back to gravel,” Walnut Township road supervisor Tim Morris told Walnut Township Trustees Tuesday night. “We have to do something.”

The township must maintain almost 59 miles of roadway. Morris said some township roads haven’t been upgraded since 1983. Thirtyfour roads haven’t been upgraded since 1999. The township’s twoman road crew, which includes Morris, has been making heavy use of the township’s three-year-old Durapatcher to fill large potholes and try to keep roadways from breaking up completely. Morris said they have already used 200 gallons of emulsion and nine tons of limestone just on Ruffner Road this spring. They still have another quarter of a mile to go.

“Everything we are doing now is a Bandaid,” he explained. “$150,000 to $200,000 a year is not going to fix these roads.”

Trustees agreed in March unanimously agreed to seek bids on two summer repaving projects. Cherry Lane, from Ohio 204 to the Liberty Township limit, and Park Avenue off South Bank Road, are paired as one project. “Park Avenue is back to gravel,” Morris told trustees in March. The other repaving project is Leitnaker Road from Ohio 37 to Old Millersport Road. The township has budgeted $150,000 for road projects this construction season. Rough estimates for this work total around $150,000.

Trustees and Morris have aggressively sought grants to repave roads. The third and final phase to rebuild and widen Cherry Lane will be completed this summer. The just over $1 million project started in 2009 (Phase 1), Phase 2 in 2011 and Phase 3 in 2018. About 80 percent of the cost has been financed with Ohio Public Works Commission grants, with the township coming up with the balance. The approximately $450,000 Neighborhood Revitalization Grant awarded to the Fairfield Beach area includes some road repaving.

Morris suggested putting a three-mill road and bridge levy on the November ballot when asked for his suggestion. He pointed that the township has significantly cut costs in recent years. The part-time secretary’s position was eliminated years ago and the road crew cut from three to two. “Two people is not enough,” Morris said. He suggested letting residents decide whether they want to let the roads deteriorate further.

“I think we need to pursue it (an additional levy),” Trustee Bill Yates said. “I can’t think of any other way to come up with the money.” He and Morris will work on a road rehabilitation plan. Once they have the plan, trustees will set the millage that voters will be asked to approve in November. Trustees will have to set the amount next month to meet the early August deadline for the November ballot.

In other business Tuesday night, trustees did get some good news. The sole bidder for the township’s 2002 dump trucker submitted a sealed bid $1,500 higher than the $19,500 minimum bid. The township’s newest dump truck is a 2011 model. Trustees agreed to purchase a new dump truck in March at a cost of about $80,000. Dump trucks are used year round, particularly to plow snow and spread salt & grits.

On the subject of snow, trustees unanimously accepted Morris’ recommendation that the township purchase 600 tons of road salt from ODOT and 300 tons from a governmental cooperative in southwest Ohio. Prices will be determined based on the bids the respective organizations receive. ODOT requires participating governments to purchase at least 90 percent of their commitment and caps purchases at 110 percent. While prices are a couple of dollars a ton higher than the ODOT prices, the SW Ohio cooperative does not require minimum purchases nor limit maximum purchases. After two light winters in a row, many entities nearly ran out of salt this past winter. Walnut Township ended up with just 200 tons after beginning the snow season with an overcapacity salt bin. The take or pay ODOT contract had small entities stuffing and seeking alternative storage areas the past two winters.

In other business Tuesday night, zoning inspector Mike Berry reported that he issued seven permits in April: one deck; two new homes, two pools and two fences. He said the proposed across a street lot combination on Lieb’s Island will be unanimously rejected by the Fairfield County Planning Commission. The property owner would like to construct a pole barn on the adjoining 40 x 100 vacant lot. The lot can not be combined, Berry explained because Lieb’s Island is a subdivision with the township owning the streets.

Trustees next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5.

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