By Nate Smith
WASHINGTON — The Daviess County Council learned Wednesday a key account in paying bills for the Bennington Levee is now close to zero.
Since the breach of the levee in 2011, the county has used money from the Riverboat Fund to pay for repairs. Due to state law, the Bennington Levee board had to pass its expense to the county to get the levee back in shape.
Wednesday, the council had to table at least one bill, $24,901, for a pump at the levee due to the depleted fund. The council also tabled legal fees and mediation costs incurred by the levee board. Last month, the commissioners also tabled the bills.
Council member Jo Arthur asked why the board submitted a $695 claim for mediation when they have over $700 in its account.
“I see no reason why they can’t pay their mediation costs. I don’t see the reason to pay their attorneys at this time,” Arthur said. “We don’t have the money in riverboat (fund) to pay for the pump.”
Currently, the fund has $27,669 according to Auditor Gail Doades. It used to have $579,000 before the levee broke in 2011.
Although the county has received funds from a settlement from the board and three individuals for their part in the 2011 levee breach, the board still owes the county a substantial amount for costs to rebuild the levee.
The levee board is due to receive their spring portion of income taxes in June, Doades said. She estimated the levee will receive between $30,000 to $35,000 from property owners along the levee. Council members said the payment for the pump should come from the levee board when their taxes come in.
As for continued repayment, county attorney Grant Swartzentruber said he is not sure how it will be paid.
“We have a variety of issues right now,” Swartzentruber said.
Brenda Sobecki with the United Way of Daviess County briefed council members on two new programs. The first was the addition of Daviess County to a 211 system.
The 211 system, Sobecki said, will connect all the county’s resources, both government and nonprofit, into one source for information. There was no date when the telephone number will be operational.
The second program was the creation of an education initiative that will provide extra tutoring for students in the first grade at Lena Dunn Elementary school, starting later this fall.
The program, funded by the Daviess County Economic Development Foundation, will use volunteers and a paid coordinator for tutoring three nights a week and on weekends.
The initiative is set for a 10-year lifespan.
County tax abatement proceedings were begun for Shad Truelove, who wants to build a facility south of Montgomery.
Truelove said he wants to build a fiberglass filament facility that will create tanks for the gas and oil industry. He hopes to build a medium-sized plant that will hire five to six employees to start with.
The council voted to create an economic revitalization area on the property and set a public hearing for the abatement in May.
The council appointed two to the board of Daviess Community Hospital. Jo Arthur and Tyson Wagler were appointed for board. Arthur continues her appointment while Wagler replaces Ken Parsons.