The county backpedaled Monday on reimbursing individuals who rock roads, only one week after a precedent was set.
After handing over more than $2,000 to Gary Diepenbrock of Lincolnville as reimbursement for putting rock on his own road, the county rebuffed a similar proposal from county resident Ed Vinduska, even though Vinduska complied with the county’s guideline of seeking prior approval.
“Maybe we were kind of premature last week,” newly appointed Commission Chairman Dan Holub said.
Road and Bridge Supertintendent Randy Crawford approached commissioners offering words of caution.
“Really everything’s out of control by doing it,” he said. “To be honest with you, I’d erase the whole thing.”
Commissioners did not destroy the policy, but agreed to work up standard terms and conditions that would put a cap on how much rock residents can get reimbursed for, and limit the program so it can be budgeted. The idea came at the suggestion of Clerk Tina Spencer.
“If you’re going to develop this sort of plan, develop the conditions and the program before you agree to do it,” she said.
“It comes down to how we’re going to manage these kind of requests,” Commissioner Randy Dallke said. “What we’re going to allow, and what we’re going to pay for.”
Crawford also pointed out the system unfairly favors wealthier people.
“It boils down to whether you’re rich or not, whether you can afford to rock your own road,” he said. “And that takes away from everyone else, too.”
Vinduska said he was “95 percent sure” the county would reject his offer to reimburse him.
“But if they’re going to set the precedent, then I’ll do it,” Vinduska said. “Diepenbrock’s business is no more important than my business.”
Vinduska was critical of the county’s handling of its roads. He said the gravel roads are maintained with “Band-Aid treatments,” and he insists higher-quality road care would be more expensive initially but save money in the long run.
“There isn’t a perfect way to handle it, but what they’re doing isn’t really going to fix anything,” he said. “A stitch in time saves nine.”
Vinduska agreed with Crawford that the county’s current situation could be a bad idea.
“They’re just hogtying themselves,” he said. “I can see where it can be abused. If the county can’t get its act together, though, all of us out here, we have ways of hauling a lot of stuff.”
The road and bridge department at the beginning of Crawford’s meeting with commissioners saw 11 employees receive increased salary due to either promotions, title changes, or pay plan adjustments.
Monday was Lori Lalouette’s first meeting as District 1 commissioner. Lalouette is Crawford’s wife. Spencer and Holub emphasized the salary changes were approved in December.