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High request shows need

December 8, 2011

Auglaize County Engineer Doug Reinhart

The Auglaize County engineer submitted a figure he did not expect to get when he requested more than $10.4 million for his 2012 budget.
His appeal stressed the county’s need.
The request is approximately $5 million more than the revenue in the Motor Vehicle and Gasoline Tax Fund for 2011.
“I know I’m not going to get it, but this is to reflect the need,” county Engineer Doug Reinhart told the Auglaize County Commissioners during his budget hearing on Wednesday. “I do this every year. It looks like I’m asking for the world, but we need it.”
Despite the large increase of Reinhart’s request, he said what he expected to actually receive would be the same as he did this year — $5.4 million — $3.6 million for roads, $1 million for bridges and culverts, and $765,354 for the Engineer’s Office.
A majority of funding for the budget comes from local license plate fees as well as gasoline and plate taxes, for which Reinhart anticipates receiving a combined $4.3 million for 2011. He’s anticipating receiving approximately the same amount in 2012.
The last gasoline tax increase was implemented in 2003 for a total of 5 cents per gallon implemented over three years. The last license plate tax increase, which was put toward road and bridge funds, was in 1991. An increase last year was earmarked for the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
“Gas is still $3.25 (a gallon) and this is normally the time of year when gasoline is the cheapest,” Reinhart said. “The closer it gets to $4, the less income we receive.”
At the same time, the increase in costs for the same materials used by the department has increased by more than $422,000 since 2006, when the engineer was receiving more money with which to operate.
With a 44 percent increase in paving costs in the past four years, 10.9 miles of the 349 under county maintenance were paved in 2011, equating to a 32-year rotation. It’s the least amount of mileage paved annually since before 1990.
“If nothing changes we’ll be back in 2043 to resurface a road if we resurfaced it this year,” Reinhart said.
Bridge work also concerns Reinhart, who said small bridges are not as big of a worry since they can be done in house but larger span bridges must be contracted out and typically have larger price tags.
“We will have several bridges posted across the county in the next several years if nothing changes,” Reinhart said.
With an official salary set at $85,354 for the past eight years with no cost of living adjustment statewide, Reinhart said unfortunately that doesn’t do much to attract young engineers to the job in the future.
The sanitary engineer budget, used for eight sewer plants and six sewer districts among other services, was requested to have a minimal increase — $1,000 in supplies for fuel costs — for a total budget of $180,950.
“It’s the biggest increase,” Reinhart said of fuel costs for the department for which employees drive 40,000 miles a year.
While wages had to be shuffled to pay the last fuel bill, Reinhart said overtime also needs to be budgeted for since two employees have been called out after hours and on weekends for 65 different events, mainly due to flooding, this year.
“I have some money built in for overtime, but fortunately they took some compensatory time for the overtime which saved us money to pay the fuel bill,” Reinhart said. “If they had taken the overtime, it could very easily have wiped out our salary line item. We need to be prepared for that.”
A decrease in funds is expected in the GIS budget, which also falls under the engineer’s jurisdiction.
Reinhart said he anticipates receiving $30,000 less this year than in 2010 for a total budget of approximately $168,430 from a $2 transfer fee implemented in 2006.
The lower amount means no carryover to the general fund, to which $284,884 has been contributed since 2006.
Whatever the budget will allow, Reinhart said he would like to work on updating the floodplain map.
“We’ve got the technology it just takes a tremendous amount of time behind the computer to do it accurately,” Reinhart said.
The floodplain addresses more than 148 miles in the county, including the Auglaize and St. Marys rivers and 18 tributaries. The FEMA plan has not been updated since 1989.
The engineer’s Tax Map Office’s budget of $36,100 is expected to stay the same in 2012 as it was in 2011 and 2010 and less than its been since before 1990. The biggest cost anticipated this year is to print new highway maps.

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