Highway Administrator Joe Feldmann

Some road and bridge expenses are up while others are down in the 2014 budget as the highway department will transition next year into a maintenance mode following this year’s suspension of the Pave the County program.

The 2014 county budget approved by the commissioners last week shows road and bridge operation expenditures for next year to be $12.87 million compared to the revised 2013 budget of $15.14 million.

But the 2014 road and bridge administration budget shows expenditures of $505,233 compared to the revised 2013 budget of $485,685.

County Highway Administrator Joe Feldmann said pay raises of 3 percent have been put in the administration budget, but he does not plan on using all of that at this time.

The vast majority of the highway department’s revenue comes from taxes, which are estimated to bring in $11.25 million in 2014.

The next largest source of revenue for the highway department is federal project funding, which will bring in $1.96 million.

Feldmann said the operations budget also includes a 3 percent raise for the highway workers, but is it up to the county commission whether those employees get the full raises. The highway operation employees are in a labor union, which has been working on finalizing a contract with the county commission.

Operations Budget

The operations budget has several changes for 2014.

No money will be budgeted for chip and seal, which is a hard-surface coating put on roads. Last year, $650,000 was budgeted for that. No money is budgeted for chip and seal this year because the county commission suspended the Pave the County program that involved converting gravel roads to hard surface.

The budget for hot mix overlays will drop from $830,000 in the 2013 budget to $750,000 in 2014. While the Pave the County program has been suspended, there will still be some overlay of existing paved roads as part of the county’s maintenance efforts.

Debt payments will go up $330,762 in 2014 to cover higher payments for the Pave the County program.

The amount of money budgeted for federal bridge land acquisition will increase from $27,500 to $230,000 in the 2014 budget. This is needed to acquire land for bridge projects, such as Bend Road bridge in eastern Franklin County.

Road materials have increased by $140,200 as the county is now focusing on maintenance, which requires rock materials, instead of new road construction.

But there will be a major decrease in the capital improvements budget from $6.3 million in the 2013 budget to $3.7 million in 2014.

The biggest drop in capital improvements comes from decreases for federal bridge projects. That will drop from $3.45 million to $1.5 million in the 2014 budget.

Feldmann explained that the drop in federal bridge projects this year is mainly because the county has completed a number of bridge projects this year. And the only federal bridge project the county applied for last year was Bend Road bridge, and it did not get the construction money. Therefore, there did not have to be as much money added in the 2014 budget for such projects.

However, the Shawnee Ford Road bridge project near Sullivan is still moving ahead.

County bridge projects will increase to $200,000 in 2014 compared to $120,000 in the 2013 budget. Feldmann said this money will be used to fix large culverts and a water crossing over Indian Creek.

Federal bridge consultant fees will increase to $750,000 in 2014 compared to $480,000 in 2013. Some of this money is for the Shawnee Ford Road bridge, Feldmann said.

The department also hopes to apply for some other projects that may be eligible for federal funding.

There is also $50,000 budgeted for miscellaneous capital projects in 2014 that were not budgeted for in 2013. The highway department’s fuel budget will be $25,000 less.