WILMINGTON — The Clinton County engineer has asked county commissioners, when they decide how to spend the county’s allotted American Rescue Plan dollars, to please make sure to replace a calculated $1.15 million the engineer’s office lost out on due to the pandemic.
“Our hope is that they look at the lost money first,” said Clinton County Engineer Jeffrey Linkous after he and Deputy Engineer Adam Fricke met this week with commissioners.
The $1.15 million drop-off in revenue is primarily due to fuel tax revenue the county engineer’s office did not get but could have expected to receive in normal times. Especially in the earlier stages of the pandemic, motor vehicle traffic on the roads was way down as were trips to the gasoline pump.
In coming up with the $1.15 million loss estimate, Linkous said he used the U.S. Treasury’s formula to determine the revenue loss amount.
Fricke, for his part, said it is money that would have gone toward roads and bridges if the pandemic had not occurred.
“That’s all we’re asking for, is replacement of what should have been there in the first place,” Fricke said at the conclusion of the Monday appointment with commissioners.
Commissioners indicated Monday they were not ready to make that decision or commitment.
Clinton County Commissioner Mike McCarty said the county was allotted a certain amount of grant funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, and that potential local projects involving water and sewer and broadband are competing for those same federal funds.
“One of the basics I think people expect [from government] is ‘Protect me and give me good roads’, but there are also other things that as commissioners we’re wanting to look at,” said McCarty.
As things start to firm up, commissioners then can start weighing the options, according to McCarty.
Among the things that will in future weeks be coming together is getting further along on an ongoing broadband study in the county. Also, commissioners expect to receive a legal evaluation on the newer information issued by the federal government regarding eligible uses of ARPA grant funds.
“I’d really want to see that [evaluation] before I would make a decision. It’s so fluid right now,” McCarthy said.
Linkous said all 88 counties in Ohio get the same amount of fuel tax revenue, whereas the bigger Ohio counties get comparatively more dollars from their license plate revenue.
The county engineer said his office, which includes the county highway department, held back on some projects in 2020, and they’re trying to catch up with roads they need to fix.
Altogether, the county expects to receive a little over $8 million in American Rescue Plan funds. The county received the first round of dollars in 2021, with the second round coming this year.
In October 2021, commissioners said they anticipated using American Rescue Plan dollars to pay for much of a $3,342,000 contract to update the former Southern State Community College facility. Clinton County had acquired the college campus facility in Wilmington in July 2021 for expanded office space for county departments.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.