The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

January 15, 2013

County forces levee board for repayment schedule

WASHINGTON — The Daviess County Commissioners threatened to delay more than $200,000 in repair payments on the Bennington Levee on Monday.

The move was to force the Bennington Levee Board to come up with some timetable for repaying the county on the close to $600,000 it owes in the ongoing levee situation.

It was not until after assurances came from Bennington Levee Board Chairman Tom Graham they would have details on repayment soon, that commissioners voted to pay $227,499 for repairs to the south breach of the levee.

The county is currently suing the Bennington Levee Board, a construction company and three individuals for events that led to the March 2011 levee break. Under state law, the county is responsible for any bills the levee incurs that the levee board cannot pay.

Although Graham has said in past meetings the board plans to pay the county back, all three commissioners wanted a schedule.

ÒIÕd just like a timeline on when the county will be reimbursed,Ó Commissioner Mike Taylor said. ÒWeÕve spent $400,000 so far (before MondayÕs meeting.)

ÒSo far, weÕve paid, paid and paid and thereÕs no clarification on when we will be paid back.Ó

Currently, no taxpayer funds are being used to pay for the levee, only money from the countyÕs riverboat fund, money the state gives the county from gambling taxes. Auditor Gail Doades said the fund is low.

In its suit against the levee parties, the county asked a Dubois County judge to order the board to assess landowners near the levee so repayment can begin. A judge ruled Dec. 20 the levee board can set its own schedule for assessment.

Graham said assessment will begin once all the bills are in for repairs, as prescribed by state law.

ÒWeÕre going to follow the law,Ó Graham said. ÒThe intent will be when we get all our bills, we will make our assessments.Ó

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