31 December, 2010 - 06:00
At the end of 2009 the county completed the Fairgrounds Parkway and the new bridge that was a part of the project. 2010 saw a verbal battle with the developer, Morgan Valley Partners, to receive payment for the developers portion of the project. The County had tested and determined that the road met the specification required. The county also will be responsible for the maintenance of the road. Morgan Valley Partners was requesting that the county put an inch and a half overlay on the road.
The county finally declared that Morgan Valley Partners was in default and began to prepare to take legal action to enforce payment. The county only had a letter of credit from Morgan Valley Partners which essentially had them guaranteeing payment for themselves, and the county’s only recourse if Morgan Valley Partners had not paid was to pursue legal action. In the end, Morgan Valley Partners blinked and paid the nearly $800,000 it owed the county. The county had a new road, a new bridge, and the payment in hand.
The council then faced difficult decision. The view of the county road staff was that the county was continually playing catch up on the roads in the county. They felt that if maintenance were done earlier that substantial money could be saved. A road bond was proposed to try to take advantage of low interest rates and the low cost of construction in the current economic climate. The vote was close, four in favor and three against. The county borrowed 1.5 million dollars to be repaid over ten years. The county will pay approximately $400,000 in interest over that ten years on the bond.
In some ways the risk seems to have paid off. The county was able to do substantial repaving ad resurfacing to restore some roads and lengthen the life of others. The county was able to complete work on even more miles of road than they projected due to low construction costs. On the other hand, in the last county council meeting the county road supervisor observed that a substantial portion of the county’s annual class B road fund dollars would go to pay the bond and he expressed the opinion that the county would likely need to dip into the general fund to pay for the ongoing costs of road maintenance in the county.
Only time will tell whether the bond was a wise or foolish move. In the mean time, however, the roads in the county are the best they have been in years, there is a new bridge, and there is access to new parts of the fairgrounds.