The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 6, 2013

Manager on road repair: Conneaut doing all it can with the money it’s got

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — A beleaguered budget can be blamed for the woeful state of Conneaut’s unpaved roads, City Manager Tim Eggleston said Friday.

“City staff is doing the best they can with the limited resources,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a piece of heavy equipment the city uses to cut pot holes is out of service because of a engine that needs to be replaced. Cost of the repair is $26,000, Eggleston said in the statement.

“Staff is looking into other options as quickly as we can to be able to grade the roads,” he said.

The condition of Conneaut’s secondary roads have been a hot topic in recent weeks. Council voiced its concern last month, and this week the local post office asked City Hall to make sections of Underridge Road passable for its mail carriers.

The city is doing the best it can with the money it has to work with, Eggleston said. “It is unfortunate the city is to the point it is, but as I have stated before, revenues have not increased while expenditures (have climbed) for material,” he said in the statement.

Officials pinned much of its 2013 and beyond road budget on a special 2.75-mill levy put to voters in November. The measure was beaten by just 170 votes out of 4,658 ballots cast.

“With the defeat of the street levy last year, which funded the purchase of gravel for the roads, it has been difficult (to provide) the services that are expected of us,” Eggleston said.

City Council will ultimately have the final say on how funds like the road account are handled, Eggleston said. “Council will have some hard decisions (regarding) whether to balance revenues with expenditures or continue to use fund reserves (for the) minimal services the city currently provides,” he said.

Eggleston complimented municipal unions he said understand the city’s plight. Two unions, firefighters and dispatchers, have accepted new contracts, while talks are continuing with police officers and service department workers.

“Some of the bargaining units have made long-term commitments to help control costs,” Eggleston said in the statement. “They understand the financial condition of the city and have extended their hand across the table and compromised to maintain current service levels and (keep) costs in line with revenue projections.”

Meanwhile, Eggleston said he knows first-hand the roads need help. “I have driven the southern roads and also will be getting my vehicle tires realigned,” he said in the statement.