Council: No new money going to Edgelea project

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Expressing its displeasure with a providing more money to the project, the Putnam County Council denied a pair of requests for additional funding to the Edgelea repaving effort on Tuesday.

County Attorney Jim Ensley spoke to the council about a pair of expenses for the project that could be taken from the rainy day fund.

The first was $150,000 in up front engineering costs -- $123,800 of which has already been paid, but out of the wrong fund.

The money was supposed to come from Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) funds, but instead came from the rainy day fund.

Ensley requested that this oversight not be corrected and that the remaining $26,200 be paid from the rainy day fund as well, thus freeing EDIT funds for other uses.

A further request was made for $40,000 to cover financing for the first year of the project. Somehow, payback of the money was scheduled to begin sooner than the assessment on Edgelea property owners, leaving the county on the hook to pay these initial costs as well.

Councilman Larry Parker bristled at using rainy day funds to pay for the project.

"I'm tired of everybody hitting the rainy day fund," Parker said. "When we started this Edgelea project, we weren't going to touch rainy day."

Fellow councilman Phil Gick asked if the $123,000 remained in the EDIT fund.

Although it was initially thought repaying rainy day would be a hit on the 2013 EDIT Plan, two of the county commissioners who approved the expenditure remembered it differently.

Both Commissioner Nancy Fogle and Councilman Gene Beck (who was a commissioner at the time) said the money was to be taken from the 2012 EDIT plan.

Auditor Lorie Hallett confirmed that there was in excess of $150,000 remaining in 2012 EDIT money, so the money should be able to come from the fund.

Gick said if the money was available in EDIT, he preferred to free up rainy day funds, which can be put to a broader range of uses.

"I would say use the 2012 EDIT money and if there's a shortfall (elsewhere) to address it with rainy day," Gick said.

The council approved the plan 6-0, advising Hallett to transfer the $123,800 in EDIT funds back to rainy day and to pay the remaining $26,200 from EDIT as well.

The council took a similar stand on the $40,000 request. With Putnam County still awaiting an approved 2013 budget from the state, no councilman is eager to take from the rainy day fund.

Instead of paying the cost now, it will be capitalized as interest and paid out of the EDIT money for the next 20 years.

The move will not affect the estimated $625 yearly assessment to be charged to each Edgelea homeowner.

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