Catoosa County receives $700,000 in state funding for road projects

Catoosa County receives $700,000 in state funding for road projects

November 22nd, 2017 by Tyler Jett in Local Regional News

Public Works Director Donald Brown speaks about bridges during a work session Monday, July 31, 2017, at the Catoosa County Colonnade in Ringgold, Ga. The Catoosa County Commission, Ringgold City Council and Fort Oglethorpe City Council held an Intergovernmental Work Session to discuss how to divide sales tax revenue, the county jail and more.

Photo by Erin O. Smith

RINGGOLD, Ga. — The Catoosa County Commission agreed Tuesday night to set aside $219,000 for a road paving grant.

The county will submit an application for state funding as part of the Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant. In exchange for setting aside its money for the program, the county would receive about $729,000 from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The county will repave two roads next year with the funding. It will roll through 3 miles on Stewart Road, from the bridge at Old Tunnel Hill Road to the Whitfield County line. It also will repave about 1 mile on Temperance Hall Road, from Georgia State Route 151 to Hooper Road.

The $219,000 figure is only a part of what the county will pay to improve the roads. The commissioners voted to approve that spending because, as part of the state grant, the county has to set aside its own money at a rate of about 30 percent of what the Department of Transportation is spending.

However, the county estimates that the overall cost of the road projects is about $1.5 million. The state's funding will pay about half that amount. In addition to the $219,000 the commissioners voted Tuesday to spend, the county will need to spend about $550,000.

Public Works Director Donald "Buster" Brown said the county is paying for the project through sales tax revenue.

"This will go to improve local county roads, correct?" Commissioner Jim Cutler asked during the meeting.

"Correct," Brown said.

"So," Cutler said, "I think it's a pretty good grant."

Brown said he chose those two roads because they were the most damaged. County workers rate every county road every three years on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best and one being almost too rough to even drive on. He said those sections of Stewart and Temperance Hall roads rate as a two.

Fatigue cracking on the pavement, when the cracks spread through a road in a pattern that looks like an alligator's back, is the main measurement for whether a road needs to be fixed. Brown expects the repaving to begin next year.

Firefighters' insurance

In compliance with a new state law, the commission also voted to purchase cancer insurance for the county's 76 professional and volunteer firefighters. In May, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill that requires fire departments to cover such insurance for their employees. The new law begins in January.

"We have no choice," Cutler said. "Our choice is to find the best plan we can for the lowest premium."

County Manager Jim Walker said the office received two offers for coverage. Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Co. said it would cover the firefighters with an estimated annual premium of $12,378 to the county. Chubb Accident & Health Insurance Co. offered a premium of $12,556.

The commissioners voted for the $178 more expensive insurance. But Walker said it was the safer bet. He said Hartford Life & Accident would adjust the premium every three months, based on the number of firefighters on staff. Chubb Accident & Insurance Co., meanwhile, would charge one fee for the whole year.

Under the plan, the company will pay a lump sum of $6,250 for early stage cancer and $25,000 for what it considers advanced cancer. That would include if the cancer has metastasized, if the firefighter needs chemotherapy or if a doctor diagnosed him or her with terminal cancer and the firefighter is expected to die within two years.

Finances better than projected

With the county's fiscal year ending in September, Chief Financial Officer Carl Henson said the local government received about $680,000 more than expected and spent about $1.5 million less than the commissioners budgeted for.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.