Jan 14, 2013

Receipts down, expenditures up in engineer’s office

GREENVILLE – Darke County Engineer James P. Surber has released his annual report for the engineer’s office. “This is our yearly report showing the taxpayer all public money received, exactly how the money was spent and what it accomplished,” said Surber. The report details many challenges the department is facing with increased costs and decreased revenue. He said, “It has always been a challenge to maintain and improve the county system having the most bridges and miles of road in the State of Ohio; and the challenge continues to grow.”

The department averages 18 miles of road and 18 bridges per employee. The highway department has 26 employees and the office, including the tax map department, has three full-time and one part-time employee. In order to work within their budget, Surber points out the department performs all engineering, construction and maintenance work with the exception of road paving and pavement marking.

Suber said, “In 2012, we reduced spending by $103,134.51, but receipts were $277,711.28 less than 2011. We spent 43 cents of the tax dollar for road and bridge improvements, seven cents for maintenance materials, 11 cents for overhead, five cents for equipment purchase and 34 cents for wages and fringe benefits.”

This year’s receipts were $5,162,549.86 and expenditures totaled $5,316,297.42. Although there was nearly a $154,000 discrepancy in receipts to expenditures, Surber reaffirmed the department is not operating in the “red.” He said, “We maintain a healthy fund balance as a defense against shortfall like that in 2012.” To maintain the healthy fund, Surber noted his office will continue to look at cost saving measures.

Revenues to perform bridge and road work come from a Motor License Fee ($2,320,143.56), Gas Tax ($2,294.859.36), Recycling & Sales ($89,350.34), Reimbursements ($374,813.89 - $222,717.29 from fuel, $46,699.14 from grants, and $105,397.46 from projects and miscellaneous), and Interest ($83,382.71). The 2012 receipts are significantly lower than in 2012 and slightly higher than 2010. However, the revenue amount is less than 2006. Surber said, “Our base receipts from gas tax and license fees increased less than one third of one percent, while overall receipt production resulted from performing fewer cooperative construction projects with other agencies.”

Although expenditures are lower than 2011, they are approximately $200,000 more than in 2010. Expenditures are broken down as follows – Resurfacing and Reconstruction ($1,951,019.15), Bridge Construction and Maintenance ($266,517.59), Labor & Salaries ($1,311,028.68), Fringe Benefits ($480,352.98), Equipment & Repairs ($392,954.69), Fuel – all county departments ($391,232.92), Road Maintenance Materials ($381,842.58), Utilities/Office/Building ($72,500.32), Culverts & Tile ($40,820.10) and Miscellaneous Expenses ($28,028.41). Surber points to the escalating cost of everything in road and bridge construction and maintenance as the reason for increased expenditures.

Throughout 2012, 31.17 miles of road were resurfaced, three miles of road were reconstructed, 52.68 miles of road were crack-sealed, three new bridges were constructed, one large culvert replaced and eight bridges rehabilitated. Under safety improvements, 1012 new warning signs and 203 road name signs were installed, 31.48 miles of centerline striping and 63.47 lane-miles were completed, two large culverts widened and two hills were lowered. The department also purchased two IH 7300 dump trucks, Case 580 SN Backhoe, Crack-Pro crack sealer and two snowplows and spreaders.

According to Surber, his department has no debt and owns 100-percent of all equipment. No real estate taxes, sales taxes or general fund money pays for any maintenance or construction on Darke County road or bridges. “There has never been any local tax for the benefit of county roads and bridges in the history of Darke County,” he said.

For additional information or comments, call 547-7375 or email dce@earthlink.net.



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