Bridge levy renewal to appear on ballot

MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County voters will be asked to renew an existing 0.45-mill, five-year bridge levy on Nov. 3.

A “yes” vote for this levy will not increase present taxes.

The levy, which has been in place since 1951, generates approximately $922,270 per year for the replacement and repair of the county’s bridge system, which includes 342 bridges and 2,693 culverts.

According to Miami County Engineer Paul Huelskamp, these funds help give “leverage” to be able to bring in federal funds to the county.

For example, Huelskamp said, the Eldean Road bridge, which was replaced in 2015, cost a total of $2.4 million to complete. The county used local funds for $148,000 — or approximately 6 percent of the cost of the total project — from the bridge levy to leverage federal grant funding for the rest.

“Over the years, we’ve replaced 186 major spans, which are 30 feet to 546 feet, such as the Eldean River bridge and the Croft Mill bridge,” Huelskamp said. “Six-hundred-and-six smaller bridges have been replaced and 1,253 bridges and culverts have been repaired or repainted with bridge levy dollars.”

Huelskamp said the levy allows the county to keep roadways safe and updated.

“The bridge levy results in better roads for Miami County. All bridge levy revenues are used exclusively for bridge construction, which allows money received from auto license fees and gasoline taxes to be dedicated solely for road maintenance,” he said. “This unique funding arrangement — uncommon in most other counties — has resulted in above-average condition of our local roadways.“

Huelskamp noted the importance of continuing this levy funding.

“Despite significant progress over the past 69 years, our bridge system continues to age,” he said. “The average age of our 342 bridges is 42 years old. Over the next 5 years, many structures will need to be repaired or replaced to maintain our bridge system at a level of safety and reliability that county residents have come to expect. In our current and projected economy, this will only be possible with access to revenues generated by this special bridge levy.“