Reader is disappointed with county commission

Several days ago I watched the Marion County Commissioner’s video (11/25) of our five commissioners at work. It was like a long, anticipated wait for a movie that had been advertised for several months with hype and controversy of five commissioners instead of three. I was excited to finally observe five individuals working together for the people who elected them in their district.

What I saw was disappointing and just like a bad movie, I wanted my money back. As you watched, it became apparent some of the elected Commissioners were down right arrogant in making decisions for their constituents with little regard to impact and homework had not been done, as a few were not worried about getting things right, but more about just getting through the meeting.

Expedition Winds presented our Commissioners a 38 page legal document titled “Expedition Winds and Marion County Development Agreement”. This document gave Expedition Winds authority to use the Marion County Engineer to establish the Wind Farm. Article II, Section 2.5 states Expedition Winds will pay for Professional Services Fees, but does not include any COUNTY ENGINEER SUPPORT COSTS. Article III: Road responsibilities County Engineer will need to be responsible for: 1. Setting up, assisting Roads Management Working Group monthly prior to construction, at least every two weeks during, and ninety days post construction. 2. Make necessary videos showing condition of roads. 3. Prior to commencement of Construction determine upgrade/culverts to widen. 4. During construction, needs to be available for oversize transportation, crane movements, road closure, dust control, approve maintenance methods, repair obligations, all light vehicle traffic. 5. Involved in post-construction inventory including repairs, restoration, emergency repair, and determining road certificates which relieves Expedition Winds from further responsibility. Our County Engineer is named 75 times for types of responsibilities in assisting Expedition Winds!! This is where every taxpayer in Marion County needs to take notice.

Three commissioners were not concerned that our Engineer is used this way without reimbursement to the County and signed. I have extreme issue with allowing any private company to use our County Road Engineer that is paid by our taxes without reimbursement.

Many meetings have been held over the years on road conditions. Many individuals have worked diligently to improve them. Everyone knows, infrastructure has to be in place before economic development will come. Two of our commissioners who flagrantly gave their vote in agreeing to Expedition’s proposal, drug their feet throughout the process of hiring an engineer and almost made it impossible to find one that would work under conditions that were set forth. During that time, I believe taxpayers in our county were hesitant to believe their roads were ever going to be drive-able again. Farmers were looking at abandoning roads and searching for alternate routes. Citizens in cities wondered how an Engineer was going to affect them and if potholes on county blacktops were going to be fixed. Everyone agreed we needed someone with expertise/training to see the “whole picture” of what needed to be done. In June, the county hired that person who met the job description. Everyone agreed that getting roads back into shape after years of neglect and/or mismanagement was a monumental task. So much that two of the three Commissioners kept the Superintendent’s job description and pay the same even though taxpayers were promised reductions in the department would offset expenses of adding an engineer. Again with the excuse that Marion County roads were their priority.

What happened to that priority? I urge taxpayers to call their Commissioner and ask why they would add the equivalent of another job to an almost impossible one already given to the County Engineer!! Rural roads still don’t have ditches and crowns that are needed to get them up and going. Potholes aren’t all fixed. The Commissioners didn’t give our Engineer a year before adding additional monumental assignments for which the county will not be reimbursed, according to the document that was signed by three of the five Commissioners with Expedition Winds.

People talk about progress and what that looks like. The picture that I just described for you is what it does not look like!! Our county commissioners painfully take 1 step forward and because of ignorance or lack of respect to the taxpayers they represent, they take 3 steps back!!

A neighboring County Commissioner made a observation the other day and said it appeared like our county was for sale!! Pretty sad for the hard working taxpayers in Marion County. Hopefully there won’t be a sequel to this bad movie!! Call your Commissioners!! Ask them about your tax dollars and what are they working for!!

Linda Peters

Liberty Township Trustee