"If that passes that will change things this summer," said County Attorney Grant Swartzentruber. "I think Indiana's counties are done with serving as the ATM for fixing all of the bad levees in the state."
The Farm Bureau meeting on levees also provided the council with some additional ideas on things that could be done to better finance levee repairs in the future. "The assessments on the Bennington Levee are based on construction costs that date back to the 1940s," said Sprinkle. "The funding formula in the law really doesn't provide enough money. The Levee Board has really done a decent job given the amount of money they have to work with."
The council also learned of ways that more money might be generated for levee work in the future. "In Knox County they have converted to a conservancy instead of a levee board," said Councilman Mike Sprinkle. "They have found that by doing that when they have a problem they can generate more money."
"The decision on whether to make that change rests with the levee board," added Swartzentruber. "It appears it might be more expensive for the land owners to begin with."
County officials say they believe that levees will always be an issue for local government. "The City of Washington has its water well-field right below the levee," said Sprinkle. "That means someone has to be responsible to make certain it is protected. There are reasons beyond agriculture to maintain this levee."
"It looks like there is some work underway to try and resolve some of these issues," added Arthur. "I think counties just want a more direct connection to the information. Hopefully, we can get more representation on the levee boards."