County questions precedent for culvert permit charges

At today’s meeting, County Commissioners revisited the issue of culvert maintenance and charges related to maintenance and installation of culverts. According to Commission Chairman Allen Warren, the amount that is currently charged to citizens is too low to cover the cost of installation. Furthermore, Warren pointed out that the county replaces culverts in the event that they rust through, and does maintenance work on culverts at no charge. Commissioner Barbara Albright said, “We’ve been losing money, here.”

Warren did the necessary research to compile dollar amounts on the use of a truck and backhoe, as well as the cost of gravel around culverts. According to Warren, it costs $75 per hour in order to run a truck towing a backhoe out to a location in Bourbon County. Depending on the location, Warren pointed out that the better part of that hour might be spent just in reaching the destination and would not include the time taken to actually work on the culvert and surrounding area.

Though citizens putting in a new access point do currently pay a permit fee, Warren pointed out that the costs incurred in the installation and maintenance of the culvert outweigh the permit fee amount. Warren said, “The $225, I can tell you, is not paying for anything more than a 15 inch. culvert.” The Commission Chairman also pointed out that the permit fee is a flat rate, while culverts installed are often bigger and more expensive than the standard 15 inch culvert.

“Your goal isn’t to make money,” said County Attorney Terri Johnson, and Commissioner Harold Coleman agreed, saying “We just want to break even, here.”

Discussion was in progress near the close of the meeting to determine a solution to cover the extra cost of materials and labor that go into installing and maintaining culverts.

In other news, commissioners and Johnson also discussed the wording and content of bid notices for the county. Johnson recommended that the bid notices be reworded in order to reduce confusion over what constitutes a “local business,” explaining that some businesses are locally operated, but are still businesses based out of a corporate office.

Warren, agreed, saying that the commissioners need to be able to defend their choices with regard to all criteria listed in the bid, including what constitutes a “local business.” The reason for concern was that a 5% bid allowance is given to businesses that qualify as being local, and both Johnson and the commissioners wished to be sure that the allowance was being applied equally to all bidders that qualify. In addition, Johnson brought up the issue of the 5% bid allowance and how it would affect a large, expensive project that would be put out for bids. Warren suggested a cap on the 5% allowance, which would prevent the allowance from accumulating to an overly large amount.

Other news:

  • The County Commissioners and Public Works Director Marty Pearson are currently in the process of purchasing a retired railroad oil tanker car, which with the ends cut off, will be used as a culvert. Commissioner Coleman said, “It would be [located] almost a mile west of 215th on Yellowstone. It would be closer to 205th.” According to Commissioner Warren, the steel on the car would be a half inch thick. In a recent Farm Show article entitled “Old Railroad Tank Cars Make Great Culverts,” Terry Smith of Diversified Rail Car in Camden, Arkansas explains that old tank cars are make of more durable steel than the average corrugated steel culvert, which makes them easier to install. The article also states that old tank cars are “priced comparably to corrugated culverts, but will last considerably longer.”

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