The Washington Times-Herald

Columns

February 17, 2013

Levee can't stop financial drain

WASHINGTON — The business of the Bennington Levee is not going away at any time.  And like many maladies, it will get worse before it gets any better.

None more evident than on Wednesday, when Bennington Levee board member Tom Graham walked out of a Daviess County Council meeting after the council decided not to pay a $2,950 bill the board incurred while defending itself from a lawsuit the county made against it.

This is how messed up the whole situation is.

The county, through its commissioners, sued the levee board and three others for breaches to the levee in 2010. So, the levee has to defend itself but can’t because the levee board is broke.

State law dictates if the levee cannot pay its expenses, the state takes over. So the county has to pay for the defense of an entity it is suing. It’s almost like a public defender system for government.

That’s the mad part of it, but that’s the law. And it will probably get worse because this battle between the county and the levee board is far from over. There are settlement talks set for Wednesday, and the south breech is still not settled.

Also, just sent Friday, the commissioners and council have set a special joint executive session for 8 a.m. on Feb. 25. A public meeting will be held after. The purpose, according to the release, is to discuss litigation.

So, what can possibly happen is there will be a settlement on the south breach or there will be more litigation to get some sort of payment schedule from the levee board. I’m not a legal scholar, but I believe there will be more about the payment side.

County leaders very angry about the levee’s bills. They have paid almost $600,000 to repair the levee and they don’t know when those funds will, if ever, be paid back. Luckily, the money comes from riverboat gambling proceeds so no services will be affected, yet.

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