Officials resolved a disagreement over regional transportation funding Thursday.
At issue was whether the city of Washington should get any of this year’s county transportation grant funds since the full amount went to the Missouri River bridge project last year.
The controversy centered on whether the funding for the Missouri River bridge in Washington should actually be considered money for the city of Washington.
In the end, the Franklin County Transportation Committee voted Thursday to recommend that Washington receive $44,875 of the $378,000 available.
The committee met Thursday to fix a vote that was taken on the grant funds last month. Previously, the committee voted to disburse the county transportation grant dollars to local government entities but mistakenly left out $50,000. Therefore, the committee had to come back to the table on Thursday to correct the vote by disbursing the full amount of grant dollars.
The first vote the committee took last month did not include any dollars for the city of Washington. But when it was discovered that there was another $50,000, the city of Washington ended up getting some of that money Thursday.
Even with the extra money available, there was still some question as to whether the city of Washington should get any of it since all of the grant funds went to the bridge project last year.
But city of Washington Engineer Dan Boyce said it is wrong to say the grant money last year went to the city of Washington.
County Highway Administrator Eva Gadcke disagreed, saying the full grant money last year was given to support the city of Washington.
Boyce retorted, “I think it’s revisionist history what you’re saying,” adding that the bridge serves the whole region, not just Washington.
Committee member Jonathan Zimmermann, who represents Union, said he had no problem giving Washington some of the grant funds this year. He added that he does not have any problem with the notion that last year’s grant funds went to the Missouri Department of Transportation, not the city of Washington.
But Richard Ray, who represents Oak Grove Village on the committee, said it was in fact the city of Washington that asked for the full grant money last year.
“What we did that day was award it to the city of Washington,” Ray added.
Boyce responded, “I don’t agree with that. Franklin County designated a quarter of a million dollars to go toward the design of the MoDOT bridge. Half of that bridge is not even in the city limits. Half of it is in Warren County. That was not money designated to the city of Washington. It was a regional effort.”
Gadcke said no one argues it is a regional bridge, but the discrepancy is that the county transportation committee was supporting Washington by giving the city the full grant last year. Washington relies on the bridge more than other entities in the county, such as New Haven and Sullivan, she noted.
Under the Franklin County Transportation Committee’s bylaws, “No entity shall receive more than 50 percent of grant funds available in a one-year period or 25 percent of the total grant funds available over a five-year period.”
New Haven City Administrator Steve Roth said he thinks the “spirit” of last year’s decision was that all of the other entities in the county gave up their funding so the full amount could go to Washington. But since the funds actually went to MoDOT Roth said he is OK with Washington getting some money this year.
Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer agreed that Washington should be allowed to get some of the grant money this year.
First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker said the bridge not only benefits Washington but the entire county since it serves as a key entry to the county.
The committee’s vote is just a recommendation and must still go to the county commission for approval.
The committee also approved a separate motion asking the county commission to publicly acknowledge that the funding for the Missouri River bridge project last year was not specifically for the city of Washington. This can help protect the integrity of the transportation committee’s bylaws, members said.
The $378,000 was recommended to be divided as follows:
Washington Special Road District, $112,189; city of Union, $92,956; city of New Haven, $70,519; city of Washington, $44,875; city of Sullivan, $30,000; city of Gerald, $25,635; and the Union Special Road District, $1,824.
The city of Washington plans to use its funds for resurfacing 14th and Stafford streets; Union Special Road District, reflective signs; city of Union, resurfacing and improvements on Old Highway 50 East; Sullivan, reflective signs; Washington Special Road District, Pottery Road improvements; New Haven, Miller Street improvements; and Gerald, resurfacing and sidewalk improvements for Main Street.