County Engineer Jim Olson reported to the Jefferson County Council on Tuesday that the highway department again plans to request $500,000 from the Economic Development Income Tax fund for its annual resurfacing project.

The EDIT fund can be used for a variety of options - including infrastructure needs - though it was created for the jail bond, which is set to expire in 2016. The fund currently has more than $2.4 million.

The highway department received $500,000 from the EDIT fund last year, which was the first time for such an appropriation.

Olson presented the plan on Tuesday as information-only and did not ask for an appropriation.

Commissioner Mark Cash, who also attended the meeting, said the highway department calculated it would take nearly $20 million to increase the condition of all county roads to a quality rating of 70 to 80 percent.

Because of those cost restrictions, crews are able to repair only a small fraction of the damaged roadways each year. Cash said using the EDIT fund allows the highway department to tackle some of the most serious areas.  

"So, we just kind of want to stay ahead of the game," he said. "With the $500,000 we got from EDIT last year, I think it went a long way in the county, but I think we need to stay on top of things."

Last year, Olson said crews resurfaced 10.5 miles of road, which came at a price tag of more than $720,000. The county directs more than $1 million each year for road work.

Olson also cautioned the County Council that fuel and liquid asphalt prices continue to rise.

"I don't see any decrease in pay costs in the future," he said.  

Olson said he will come with an official proposal at the March 12 meeting.

Also at the meeting, Auditor Celeste Reed presented a plan to the County Council that would contract out the some of the county's mapping duties and save personnel costs.

She said a full-time employee who maintained the mapping system recently left, leaving an opportunity for the new direction.

Electronic mapping in the county is used to chart parcels, houses, housing divisions, as well as roads.

Reed proposed using WTH Technology, based in Indianapolis, for the service, but she added that she would first need to present the plan to the Board of Commissioners.   

"WTH has done an excellent job for us in the past," Reed said. "This would be a smart way to go."

Joe Ward, senior consultant at WTH, said the contract would cost a flat $500 a month. The contract calls for a six-month minimum commitment, and the company would also train county personnel on the system.

"Knowing that the staffing situation has changed very suddenly, we're happy to step in and help with this for as long as needed," he said.

In other business:

• County Prosecutor Chad Lewis reported that he has hired two part-time prosecutors instead of one full-time person. He said the move will save about $16,000 in benefits.

• Sheriff John Wallace reported that his department currently is raising money through donations to purchase a K-9. The department is $2,000 toward reaching its goal of $8,000 to $10,000.