By Josh Mitchell

Missourian Staff Writer

Franklin County commissioners this week defended a grant program that awards sales tax dollars to local cities and road districts.

Prior to the commission formally approving the $378,000 in grants, Villa Ridge resident Eric Reichert said the money that the county gives to local entities could be used to maintain roads in unincorporated Franklin County.

Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said prior commissioners made a commitment to the voters of Franklin County that revenue from the sales tax would be shared with local cities.

“That’s a commitment that we’ve agreed to continue,” Griesheimer said. “Even though we are not legally bound by that, still the promise was made and promises that are made should be kept.”

First District Commissioner Tim Brinker said the sales tax funds are allocated to local communities through a process with much integrity. He added that the process ensures that each community gets its fair share.

The grant program helps make traffic safety improvements, Brinker said, adding that everyone benefits.

Each year, the county allocates 5 percent of its half-cent road and bridge sales tax revenue to help cities and road districts pay for projects.

A committee made up of representatives from various government entities in the county recommended the allocation of the $378,000. The county commission then formally approved the recommendation.

This year, there was more money to distribute than is typically available because Sullivan had to return money that it did not use because it was unable to obtain right of way for a Highway 185 realignment project.

Franklin County Highway Administrator Eva Gadcke said the entities that were awarded grants have three years to use the money.

The funds were divided as follows: Washington Special Road District, $112,189, Pottery Road improvements; city of Union, $92,956, resurfacing and improvements to Old Highway 50 East; city of New Haven, $70,519, phase 3 of Miller Street work; city of Washington, $44,875, resurfacing for Stafford and 14th streets; city of Sullivan, $30,000, road signs; city of Gerald, $25,635, resurfacing and sidewalk improvements to Main Street; and Union Special Road District, $1,824, road signs.