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Local News

Culvert replaced keeping drive from being washed away, now who pays the bill?

A routine budget amendment to the Barry County budget Tuesday brought an explanation and a question on a $8,641.01 item charge in the Emergency Management department. Administrator Michael Brown said after a significant amount of rain recently, Barry County Emergency Management coordinator Jim Yarger got a call from a resident of Charlton Drive, reporting  a culvert was washing out underneath a private drive at Pleasant Shore in Castleton Township.

 

“It couldn’t wait over the weekend,” Yarger said. “It would be gone by Saturday afternoon, or deteriorated so far that we couldn’t safety pass vehicles over it."  Some 50 to 60 people would have been stranded and without access by fire trucks or ambulances, if they were needed, he said.

 

“I could have pulled the trigger, or walked away,” Yarger said. “It was a Friday afternoon, we had an hour or two to get an emergency soil erosion permit, to make up our minds…everyone agreed to do what we did…it was a safety issue.”

 

He called the Barry County Road Commission to come out to replace the culvert, which they did.

The question is who will pay the bill for the road commission’s work?

Brown said he has contacted the drain commissioner, who said it is private property, not in a drain so they aren’t responsible. No township or group of residents have petitioned for a special assessment district to pick up the tab. The road commission said it’s not in its right of way, so they are not responsible.

 

So, it stays in the Emergency Management column.

Yarger said the tab for repairs was minor compared to the costs of evacuating, sheltering and legal costs for the  50 to 60 people who would have been impacted.  

 

So far,  no one seems ready to pay the bill. “If nothing changes, it will come out of the general fund,” Brown said. “That’s taxpayers paying for a private drive,” said Commissioner Jon Smelker. “Do that, and you’ll be paying for everyone’s private drive.”

“Notify the home owner that they have to pay up,” Commissioner Dan Parker suggested.

“It’s a unique situation.” Brown said. “It was the right thing to do.”

 

 

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