One invoice has been returned four times.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The Trumbull County engineer is being forced to dip into road funds to pay what officials say are county commissioners' obligations.
Those costs include a $9,000 invoice, for damage to a truck, that commissioners returned four times, despite a promise to pay; about $25,000 for a drainage project in Howland; and $78,000 to fix the roof of the engineer's maintenance building, which commissioners own.
In December, commissioners journalized an IOU promising to repay the engineer for the new roof.
The engineer's controller, Rocky Riviella, said commissioners promised to repay the money by the end of next year. The engineer would accept payments, he said.
"You pay the gas tax and you pay the license plate tax, it is supposed to go on the road, not on the roof," he said.
Funded by taxes
Because the engineer's office is nearly entirely funded by those two taxes, it has been largely isolated from the county's financial problems. The county is responsible for serving as the engineer's landlord and providing vehicle and liability insurance.
In August, commissioners agreed to compensate the engineer for expenses resulting from their decision to buy less insurance coverage. Commissioners switched from a insurance policy that covered claims over $5,000 to one that covered only claims more than $50,000 in 2001.
Commissioners will pay back departments for losses that would have been covered under the old policy, said county human resources director James Keating.
However, a invoice from the engineer's office requesting help paying for a tar truck that was damaged in an accident earlier this year has been returned by commissioners unpaid four times, Riviella said.
"The bill is going to get paid," Keating said. "It will get paid soon."
Reason for delay
The delay is because there is no money in the appropriate account, he said.
The engineer's office has been involved in two more accidents that might result in bills to commissioners, Riviella said.
The most recent one occurred about two weeks ago, when an engineer's office pickup was rear-ended by an uninsured driver, Riviella said. Damages are probably between $6,000 and $7,000.
Trumbull County Administrator Tony Carson was in his office but did not return telephone calls. Commissioner Dan Polivka said he would look into the issue.
But Polivka applauded the engineer for agreeing to front the money for a project to fix drainage problems in the Avalon Estates development.
The money would be paid back as property owners are assessed for the project, but at a meeting earlier this month commissioners said they didn't have the ready cash.
"It is good they [the engineer's office] are helping out on this," Polivka said. "They are going to get repaid anyway."