President, highway decisions set Tuesday for County Council

Thursday, June 16, 2022

The Putnam County Council is set to select a new president when it meets on Tuesday.

While mid-year leadership changes are not the norm for the Council, the move is necessary after Dave Fuhrman announced his plans to step aside from the presidency during the May meeting.

Earlier in May, Fuhrman lost a Republican primary election challenge from Wayne Huffman and will therefore be off the Council as of Jan. 1, 2023.

While fellow Council members expressed their confidence in Fuhrman continuing as president, he called for continuity as the county budget process approaches in a few months.

“We have budgets coming up. We need continuity,” Fuhrman said. “I’ll still be on the council, but not as president.”

Fuhrman is completing his third term on the Council, having served as president since February 2019.

The remaining six council members — Vice President Stephanie Campbell, Jay Alcorn, Keith Berry, Phil Gick, Larry Parker and Danny Wallace — will choose the new president from among themselves.

It won’t be the only big decision on the Council’s agenda that evening, as the Putnam County Highway Department will be requesting additional funds for its 2022 paving plan.

During the most recent meeting of the Putnam County Commissioners, County Engineer/Highway Supt. Jim Peck announced that, as currently slated, the 2022 plan would come at a cost of about $3 million. Meanwhile, the county budget for this year only allocated $1 million for paving.

However, the majority of the funds Peck has in mind are elsewhere in the Highway Department coffers.

“What we’re looking at to be able to do all this paving is to go back to the Council and request to use cash we have on hand for our MVH (Motor Vehicle Highway) Fund and our MVH Restricted,” Peck said.

While it’s not clear what action the Council will take Tuesday, the fact that the money is from the highway budget and not the County General Fund is likely a positive.

“It’s an accounting issue,” Commissioner Rick Woodall said. “It’s not a lack of funds issue.”

Peck told the Commissioners that he will be requesting $900,000 out of each of the two MVH funds as well as $300,000 in Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) funds.

The Commissioners control EDIT funds, so no Council approval is necessary for these funds. Commissioners Woodall, David Berry and Tom Helmer already approved the $300,000 for the highway when they finalized the 2022 EDIT Plan in February.

As for the two MVH funds, they will not be depleted, as the main fund is set to have an end-of-year balance of $725,670, along with $644,730 in MVH Restricted.

Peck also gave the Commissioners a couple of specific paving updates during their most recent meeting.

He noted that Hendricks County recently paved the short bypass between State Road 75 and U.S. 40, which had been in disrepair for several years. While the road is effectively a 0.32-mile extension of State Road 240 it is, in fact, a county road.

However, responsibility for the road is technically divided between the two counties. The western 0.22-mile section is a Hendricks County Road, while the eastern 0.1-mile section veers slightly south, fully into Putnam County.

Hendricks recently paved the full road and was set to send Putnam County a bill for its section. Peck estimated this would cost the county in the $18,000-$20,000 range.

Peck also said the county will contract with Milestone to do paving in the area of Putnam County Hospital.

Hospital Drive, Medic Way and Medallion Drive — a cul-de-sac across U.S. 231 and slightly north – will all be paved at a cost of $148,111.60.

In one other update, Peck told the Commissioners that White Construction is still saying that it is on schedule with the Bridge 276 replacement on Saddle Club Road over CSX Railroad in Madison Township.

The contract calls for the bridge to be completed by Sept. 15 with any final issues resolved by Sept. 30.

The concrete beams for the new bridge have been built, and Peck told the Banner Graphic that CSX has approved the demolition plan.

White Construction has set up a 330-ton crane for the project and is also working with CSX to perform an exploratory excavation of the existing bridge foundations to allow for the preparation of a sheeting/shoring plan for the new foundations and piers.

The Commissioners are set to meet at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 20 while the County Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21.

Both meetings will take place on the first floor of the Putnam County Courthouse.

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