(WASHINGTON) - The Daviess County Commissioners and Daviess-Martin REMC are at odds over utility relocations for the Odon-Cannelburg Road project.
Nate Smith of the Washington Times Herald reports that the utility is asking the commissioners to pay half of the utility's bill of $135,345 for moving utility lines on County Road 900 East.
The reason, according to engineer Dominic Romano, County Highway Supervisor Phil Cornelius and Commissioner Tony Wichman, was the utility did not agree with the project, saying it is not a benefit to them.
But Romano says the situation could have been avoided if REMC had not placed their poles in the county's right-of-way.
Cornelius says if the utility had easements on its lines and poles, REMC would be eligible for reimbursement from state and federal funds. But some of the poles along the road do not have easements.
Total costs to move REMC's lines is estimated at $171,758. The Indiana Department of Transportation ruled that because of the easement issue, only 21.2 percent, or $36,412, was eligible for reimbursement from state and federal funds. The county was asked to pay $7,282 of that cost due to the project agreement.
Romano, Cornelius and Wichman met with leaders of REMC last week to discuss the issue. It was at the meeting where the utility proposed splitting the remaining $135,345 to move the lines. They also requested the 50/50 split be for future utility movements along the road.
The county is not under any legal obligation to pay for moving the poles. Other utilities have paid for their own relocations or have easements to pay for the relocation.
County attorney Grant Swartzentruber says REMC's argument was not solid legally.
Romano says INDOT wants to have this issue resolved before the state opens the contract for bidding in March. Otherwise, the project may be put on hold.
Commissioners argued that since the other utilities on the road, including Daviess County Rural Water, RTC Communications, PSI and Smithville, have moved their lines without the county's assistance because they were reimbursed or paid for the expense, they could not see helping REMC. But the council voted to pay the $7,282 and REMC will work with the county to resolve the issue. Cornelius sys if there is a delay in construction, REMC may be held liable for the delay.
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