Commissioners back county’s mud on roadway policy
Approve lease agreement with airport authority
COUNTY – The Walsh County Commissioners are standing by their mud on roadway policy and Walsh County Highway Superintendent Sharon Lipsh.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting, the commissioners unanimously passed a motion to not lower a damage assessment to one county landowner because of the policy that is meant to keep roads clear of potentially dangerous mud buildup as a result of harvest.
The motion, made by Jack Karas and seconded by Karen Anderson was also an affirmation of the policy which is in accordance with North Dakota Century Code and first enacted back in 2009.
The policy refers to instances where farm or commercial activities from an owner, renter or contractor of land or property adjacent or near a county road deposits mud or other debris on the roadway.
According to the policy language, mud on roadways constitutes a road safety hazard because it may lead to accidents, especially during adverse weather conditions.
According to the policy, owners, renters or contractors are responsible for doing everything possible to prevent mud or debris from being deposited on roads; use “mud on roadway” or “slippery road” signs when necessary to inform the public of the hazard, and clean roads as necessary during the day and at the end of the working day.
The policy also states that the responsible parties should clean affected roads within two hours of being notified. Furthermore labor, equipment and material costs used to restore affected roadway to pre-harvest conditions, at the discretion of the county, will be billed to the owner, renter or contractor.
Lipsh told commissioners that bills for such work done after the 2013 harvest by the county were sent out on Dec. 13.
She said bills sent out this year involved 80 parcels of land and 60 landowners. The total amount billed by the county was just over $44,000.
Lipsh said she personally went out and documented the mud on roadway sites and made the decision on which roads needed repair and re-graveling.
She said the largest stretch of road that needed repair was one and a half miles long. The smallest repair involved seven yards of gravel.
“We didn’t extensively gravel,” Lipsh told the commissioners. “We put on only what we needed to.”
Lipsh told The Walsh County Record after the meeting that the mud on roadway isn’t specific to any crop.
“It doesn’t matter what crop is planted. There’s a misnomer out there that people think we only billed beet farmers,” she said. “This year we billed beet, potato and corn (farmers). In the past, we’ve even had a bill go out to a wheat field.”
Lisph said in most, not all cases, the responsible parties are notified if there is a problem.
“If we know who the landowner is, we give them every chance to do it themselves,” she said. “If we don’t know who it is and they’re long gone, we do the work and they get assessed for it.”
The board also unanimously passed a motion to enter into a lease agreement with the Grafton Municipal Airport Authority for space it uses as a stockpile on the west side of the airport.
In the past, the county hasn’t paid for rental of the space it’s utilized since 2009, but instead has done small projects for the airport in lieu of payment.
The agreement calls for the county to reimburse the airport authority $1,500 for rent in 2013. The 2013 rent is to be paid by Jan. 31, 2014. The lease agreement is good for 5 years with a payment of $1,500 due by June 8 of each year.
Luther Meberg made the motion to enter into the agreement. It was seconded by Anderson and all members present Karas, Anderson, Meberg, Ernie Barta and Allen Ruzicka voting in favor.
In other business
• Decided not to increase the per diem it pays members of the Walsh County Social Service Board (WCSSB). WCSSB members currently receive $35 per meeting plus mileage.
• Unanimously approved a motion to purchase a printer and laptop computer for the Walsh County Auditor’s office. Auditor Kris Molde said the current printer was purchased in 2000 and is beginning to jam. Cost of the purchases totaled just over $3,115.