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1/24/2019 10:50:00 AM
State won't withhold Anderson bridge funds after official gets required certification

Ken de la Bastide, Herald Bulletin City and County Government Reporter

ANDERSON – Madison County officials have been informed that no funds will be withheld from reimbursement on the Eisenhower Bridge project.

The Indiana Department of Transportation informed county officials on Jan. 11 that without a designated employee responsible in charge there would be no reimbursement of federal funds on the bridge project starting on Jan. 1.

Madison County Commissioner Kelly Gaskill completed and passed the employee responsible in charge certification last Sunday and was recognized by INDOT on Tuesday. 

“INDOT and the Federal Highway Administration have decided that no funds will be withheld from the reimbursement of the project due to the lack of the ERC for the period of Jan. 1 to Jan. 20,” INDOT spokesman Neil Marcus said.

Marcus said the decision was a result of the county acting promptly to name an employee responsible in charge.

“It should be noted that although the initial indication was that the funds were to be withheld due to the agreed and typical procedure,” Marcus said.

The state and Federal Highway Administration took into consideration the change in leadership of the Madison County commissioners.

“The basic fact that the whole reason for the program is not to penalize a community for what should be an easily remedied oversight, but to assist them with funds for these much needed projects,” Marcus said.

Gaskill said she wasn’t aware of the problem until Jan. 11 and started the process to get certified on Jan. 14.

“Thank goodness the state was willing to work with us,” she said. “At the end of the day, I didn’t want this to cost the taxpayers any money.

“This should have been done in October,” Gaskill said. “We’re moving forward and more than one person will have the certification.”

During a Tuesday meeting of the Madison County Board of County Commissioners, commissioners Gaskill and Mike Phipps indicated that more than one county employee would be certified as the employee responsible in charge.

The problem surfaced when former Madison County Engineer Chuck Leser’s designation as the employee responsible in charge ended on Dec. 31.

Leser resigned as county engineer effective on Oct. 8 to accept a similar position with the city of Anderson but continued to be the employee responsible in charge through the end of 2018.

Commissioner John Richwine previously said there was an attempt to hire a county engineer after Leser announced he was leaving.

“We advertised and took resumes,” he said. “We interviewed two people that were both qualified before the November election.” 

Richwine said, along with then-Commissioner Steffanie Owens, the county was ready to hire an engineer, but Phipps wanted the appointment delayed until he had a chance to meet with the two applicants.

At the Tuesday meeting, Phipps said the commissioners were waiting for the personnel board of the Madison County Council meet to hire an engineer.

“We want to recruit minorities and women for the position,” he said. “We hope to have a diverse group to consider.”

Gaskill said the engineer’s position could have been done in October.

Richwine said the position was considered outside the hiring freeze instituted by the county council and the position could have been filled last October.

Madison County received a $13.5 million federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant on its eighth attempt at replacing the aging Eisenhower Bridge in Anderson.

The county’s required local match is $3.1 million. The county is still responsible for the $1,770,800 in inspection fees, $238,758 for the relocation of power lines by Anderson Municipal Light & Power and an estimated $337,044 fee to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The entire project is to be completed by June.

Related Stories:
• No county engineer means losing federal funding on Anderson bridge

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