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Walnut Township to seek a 3-mill road levy

Millersport – Walnut Township Trustees unanimously agreed Tuesday night to place a three-mill road levy on the November ballot. It was roughly estimated to bring in about $500,000 a year.

Earlier in the meeting, trustees opened the only bid submitted for their 2018 resurfacing projects. The Shelly Company of Thornville bid:

• $54,852.70 to motor-pave Cherry Lane from Ohio 204 to the Liberty Township limit;

• $2,301.65 to motor-pave Park Avenue; and

• $82,645.50 to motor-pave Leitnaker Road from Ohio 37 to Old Millersport Road.

The three projects were estimated to cost about $150,000. Shelly’s bids totaled $139,799.85

After Fiscal Officer Lynn Kraner confirmed that the township had sufficient funds to do all three projects, trustees unanimously awarded the contract to The Shelly Company. The work is to be done by the end of September.

Trustees picked the roads for this year’s resurfacing projects back in February. Road Supervisor Tim Morris reported then that, “Park Avenue is back to gravel. We have several roads going that way quickly.”

After thanking trustees Tuesday night for approving all three projects, Morris said, “$139,000 is not even putting a dent in our needs.” He said Elevator Road, which runs between New Salem and Canal roads, is going to gravel. Geiger Road is also getting close to that condition. “It is not an exaggeration,” he emphasized. Morris said spending about $150,000 a year to maintain nearly 60 miles of township roads is not enough. “I’ll show you what I’m talking about,” he offered.

Based on Shelly’s Tuesday bid, Morris estimated it would cost about $3.7 million to just motor pave all the township’s roads. His estimate didn’t include the additional costs for roadway striping, berm maintenance/ replacement or any subsequent maintenance for the newly paved roads.

“You need more eggs in your basket,” Trustee President Doug Leith told Morris. “It’s the people’s choice,” Morris said. “We can’t cut back anymore.” Last month, he noted 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. The township’s road maintenance equipment is also aging. The township’s newest dump truck is a 2011 model. Trustees agreed earlier this year to replace a 2002 dump truck at a cost of about $80,000.

Last month, Morris told trustees some township roads haven’t been upgraded since 1983. Thirty-four roads haven’t been upgraded since 1999. The township’s two-man 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. “Everything we are doing now is a Bandaid,” he explained. 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 last month putting a three-mill road and bridge levy on the November ballot. Tuesday night Trustee Terry Horn moved to place a three-mill levy on the November ballot. His motion was unanimously approved.

In other business Tuesday evening, trustees set a special meeting for 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, to open quotes to replace the failing roof over the township building and the interview candidates for the recording secretary’s position. The roof replacement project scope currently includes replacing the flat roof with trusses for a sloped roof. Horn, who has headed up the project, expressed some concerns about the number of quotes that will actually be submitted next week and their cost. He suggested trustees think about cutting back on project scope and just replace the roofing material. Trustees will review the actual bids before making any decisions.

Kraner asked for input on the draft 2019 budget that she is preparing. Leith asked about the status of the tree removal budget for this year. It was budgeted for $15,000 this year and about $4,500 has already been spent. “I’m comfortable with that,” he said. The dead and dying ash trees in the road right-of-way prompted his concern about this growing expense.

Trustees also unanimously decided to move their July 3 regular meeting to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 28, at 7 p.m. The meeting will open with a short hearing on the proposed 2019 budget.

Zoning Inspector Mike Berry reported a “busy May,” issuing permits for two home additions, seven fences and one shed. Six zoning violation letters were sent out in May. He reported that one property owner will have to remove a front deck because it is totally in the front setback area. Berry said the new Dairy Queen in Fairfield Beach will need a sign variance.

He also reminded all waterfront property owners, except those with dam front property, that there is a 25 foot setback from the property line on the waterfront side.

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