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Council denies town’s request

The Harrison County Council last week denied a request from Elizabeth’s town manager, Hugh Burns, of $8,500 to help pay for the pavement project of Main Street in downtown Elizabeth.
The project has been paid for and completed, but Burns was hoping for some reimbursement funding from the county since, he said, the road is traveled by mainly out-of-town motorists as a pass-through to Horseshoe Southern Indiana in nearby Bridgeport.
The request, made Tuesday, Nov. 13, was passed on from the board of commissioners, although one commissioner, James Goldman, did not support the idea.
‘We share riverboat money with the town; they also get motor vehicle highway money,’ Goldman said. ‘To me, it’s double-dipping … It’s not the only town that has a state road running through it.’
Goldman said other towns will look to come to the county for $8,500 if the council elects to give it to Elizabeth.
Burns said he totally disagreed with Goldman.
‘It’s a main thoroughfare for the county,’ he said. ‘I don’t think it’s too much to ask.’
The entire project, which paved about a 1/4 mile from S.R. 111 to Elizabeth-New Middletown Road, cost $45,000.
Burns said 20 percent of the total project is not too much to ask from the county.
The money was requested out of District 3 Commissioner Jim Klinstiver’s fund, but the board of commissioners thought the council should vote on it.
‘It’s a deviation from the norm,’ Goldman said, because the council budgeted the money for use on county roads, not town roads.
The commissioner’s attorney, John E. Colin, created a resolution for the payment that the council also had to sign off on.
‘It’s a reasonable request,’ Klinstiver said. ‘The county puts 95 percent of the traffic on that street. It should be a county road. It’s a quirk in history that it’s not a county road.’
Council Chair Gary Davis said it’s not whether it’s a reasonable request or not; it’s a matter of whether or not it would set a precedent for other towns asking for money.
‘We’ve had several (District 3) commissioners come through that didn’t feel it was appropriate,’ Davis said.
Davis also asked Burns how much riverboat gaming funds money Elizabeth had saved.
‘About $240,000,’ Burns said. ‘That’s not the point that I can afford it … It’s a fair request. We’re the closest town to the riverboat, and we’ve not received one extra dollar.’
Burns said he needs the riverboat money to help pay for day-to-day operations of the town (trash, cemetery maintenance, etc.) should the money flow from the riverboat stop some day.
Davis then cut off Burns.
‘We’ve heard all of your points … ,’ he said. ‘I agree with James (Goldman). It’s a road we should not go down.’
Councilman Jim Heitkemper, who said he’d like to be good neighbors, made the motion to approve the request. Councilman Ralph Sherman seconded.
It failed with a 2-4 vote (Councilman Gordon Pendleton was absent).
Klinstiver said he’s in favor of the county taking over the road, but Burns and Elizabeth is not.
In other business, Davis presented the board with a new 2013 budget total of $34.5 million instead of the previously reported $39.5 million. A department total was added twice in the previous total, Davis said.
The 2012 budget totaled $36.5 million.
The council’s next meeting will be Monday at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.