Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

County engineer preparing for more road improvements in 2019 fiscal budget

Jan 17, 2018

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Henry County Engineer Jake Hotchkiss is planning for yet another busy year when it comes to road improvements and is asking for a 1.6 percent increase from Supervisors for the proposed July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 fiscal budget.

In addition to keeping to their three- to four-year cycle of resurfacing gravel roads, the department is focusing on rebuilding road tops and resurfacing with heavier rock. As time goes on, Hotchkiss said these improvements will ensure the roads can handle the rain and freezing snow and ice, Hotchkiss told county supervisors at the meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

Since 2014, the county has completed 17 miles of shoulder pull projects to improve gravel roads. Hotchkiss said the cost for this has been $475,000 or $28,000 per mile. In 2019, the county is budgeting for 10 additional miles of road improvement to be completed.

In gravel road grading projects, they have completed a little over six miles to date, costing $571,124 or $91,340 per mile. Hotchkiss said that this helps eliminate potholes on gravel roads and supports the traffic that’s driving on them.

In total, roads are expected to cost $1,859,500 for fiscal year 2019.

Hotchkiss is also looking toward bridge projects in the next fiscal year. The three larger projects are Franklin Ave. Railroad, Bridge 145 Nebraska Ave., and Dakota Ave. Bridge, which will be a carry-over project from the last fiscal year.

The Franklin Ave. Bridge project will be done with federal aid funds because it involves the railroad. Hotchkiss said they have been working on this project for about three years now and “What it comes down to is we’ve done our part, the plans are done (the railroad has) agreed on the plans, and now we’re waiting on the legality side of it,” he said. He hopes this project will commence in the fall.

Hotchkiss himself is currently working on the design of the Nebraska Ave. Bridge, which he said will most likely be built this summer. Construction of a total of 10 projects through June of 2019 is expected to cost around $1,250,000.

Especially with the extreme cold of this winter, Hotchkiss advised that the budget for snow and ice control is difficult to predict. He does so by using the running average cost of snow and ice control from previous years. He is budgeting $213,000 for next winter.

The department is also budgeting $600,000 for new equipment, including a new motor grader, a tandem axle truck, a one ton spray truck IRVM, a track skid loader and brush mower and a new pickup.

Henry County Planning and Zoning also presented their budget during the meeting. Zoning Administrator Joe Buffington said that for the most part, the budget remains the same from the previous fiscal year.

Buffington said that he will be adding duties of flood plain manager to his job description and penciled in a pay raise of 5 percent for Supervisors to approve with the rest of the budget. There’s a lot of information involved with serving as flood plain manager, Buffington said while holding up a full, three-inch binder.

Supervisors will receive each department’s budget before approving them.

In other news, supervisors renewed Hillcrest Family Services lease, adopting an amended lease with no change in fee structure.

Supervisors also discussed with Buffington protocol for selling county property. The county follows Iowa code for selling county property, which involves publicly publishing the land for sale so there is equal opportunity for anyone wanting to purchase the property to do so.

The question was brought up whether or not landowners with property adjacent to the county property being sold should be notified first as they would be the most likely to purchase it. County Auditor Shelly Barber said that if you start notifying adjacent landowners, where do you stop?

Supervisor Marc Lindeen agreed with Barber, saying that his original thought was that adjacent landowners should be notified, but then they would have to define what adjacent means. “There is no place to stop if we start notifying adjacent landowners,” he said, suggesting they also publish county land for sale on the county website.

Buffington said that the county currently meets their legal obligation in publicizing sale of county land.

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