Two state legislators hope a change to Indiana state law can benefit the county roads here in their home district.
Sen. Connie Lawson (R-Danville) and Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) presented a draft of changes to the state's hazardous waste regulations at Monday's Putnam County Commissioners meeting. The changes would expand the uses of a county's hazardous waste disposal tax revenue.
Lawson said Putnam County would be the only county in the state affected, as it has the only working hazardous waste landfill in the state. The facility is located at 4370 W. CR 1275 North in Russell Township.
The hazardous waste tax fund is to be used for purposes of monitoring the site and of safety issues that could arise from the waste's presence in the county.
Previous uses of the money have included a new truck for the Russellville Fire Department and the county's emergency management and 911 Dispatch building.
Struggling with road funds, local officials would like to see county roads added as a use for the money. Their contention is that safe passage to the site is essential to responding to any potential hazardous waste emergency.
"We know Putnam County needs as much money as it can get for the county roads," Lawson said. "We also know that you have a hazardous waste fund for a reason."
The amended version would include two small additions. First, the purposes allowed for the money would also include "paying costs associated with the maintenance or repair of county roads."
An additional proposed amendment to the law is that a county may not annually expend more than 10 percent of the fund's balance on county roads. The amount would be determined by the fund's balance on Jan. 1 of the year in question.
Auditor Stephanie Campbell said the current balance of the hazardous waste fund is approximately $3.5 million. Under the proposed formula, this would make about $350,000 available for roads.
A resident at the meeting asked if some of the money might be used for road repairs at Heritage Lake. Commissioner Nancy Fogle emphasized the lion's share of the money would remain in Russell Township, saying roads in the area have been especially neglected.
However, more money would be available to spend elsewhere in the county if Russell Township's roads were maintained through this money.
The lawmakers reminded the commissioners what they presented was only a draft that will go before the General Assembly early in 2012.
"This is a preliminary draft," Baird said. "It would have to go through the Senate; it would have to go through the House. The session doesn't start until January."
The commissioners asked if there was anything they could do to help support the proposal at the state level. The legislators asked for a letter of support from the county.
Lawson said it would also be beneficial if a pair of county officials -- perhaps one commissioner and one council member -- were available to testify at the statehouse when the bill is in committee.
"We appreciate what both of you are doing," Commissioner Gene Beck said. "Just let us know and we'll be there."