OTTAWA — The Putnam County Commissioners, engineer and auditor met with Columbus Grove representatives Tuesday to alleviate confusion over a Plum Creek maintenance petition filed last year.
Putnam County Engineer Mike Lenhart said Columbus Grove filed a petition in August 2016 requesting engineers look into flooding in Plum Creek, a source of flooding in the village.
“The water doesn’t get out of town fast enough,” Columbus Grove Councilperson Skyler Mayberry said during the meeting.
Around that same time, petitions were also filed by Pleasant Township Trustees, Kalida and various landowners along Plum Creek, Lenhart said.
“That is when we determined we needed to do a full assessment,” he said. “In the fall or early winter of 2016 we began the assessment and worked on it until the weather got bad.”
Engineers met with representatives from the soil and water conservatory and Army Corps of Engineers to get their input, Lenhart said. They postponed more work on the assessment until after this year’s harvest because of the weather and later crops on the field interfering with the work. During this time the Engineer’s Office didn’t stay in contact with Columbus Grove Mayor Ken Wright or Village Administrator Jeff Vance.
“They got a little confused,” Lenhart said. “Somewhere along the process they thought they had asked for a new petition.”
It seemed to Lenhart this is what the mayor and council in Columbus Grove were expecting ditch petition hearings and when those did not happen, they were concerned.
“We just needed to have this meeting to clarify everything,” Lenhart said.
According to Lenhart, another factor that is taken into account is financing. When a petition is made each ditch and tile has its own funding account made, with funding pulled from that account as work is completed.
If there is insufficient funds in the account, commissioners must advance the money to the Engineer’s Office for the work, Lenhart said. The engineers office pays that advance back by taxing each landowner with land that drains into the ditch or creek being worked on depending on different variable, he said.
Lenhart said the goal of his office is to have the Plum Creek assessment completed by January. After that is complete, they will have to meet with the commissioners to get an advance for the full project or part of it, as the Plum Creek account has a current negative balance of $2,500. After that they will find a contractor to do the work on the creek.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.