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Citizen panel will help direct county's 1-percent fund use

Mar 25, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

A countywide committee of citizens to advise leaders on uses for money generated by the new 1 percent sales tax is filling up, though it still needs volunteers from the Dubois and Lysite areas. County transportation superintendent Dave Pendleton is forming the group and told the Fremont County Commission at its March 19 meeting that he would soon be making selections.

In an interview, Pendleton said the committee will be composed of 10 people, two from each commission district.

His goal is to have a balance of people from rural areas and municipalities.

So far, no one from the Dubois or Lysite areas has applied, but he would like to see those parts of the county represented.

"I'd encourage those that haven't (applied) that are interested," he said.

Interested residents should contact transportation department office manager Pennie Buffington by phone at 332-1039 or email at pennie.buffington@femontcountygovernment.org.

The committee will advise the county transportation department on how to spend revenue from the optional 1 percent tax which, was approved by voters in November and takes affect April 1.

The county expects about $4 million in revenue from the tax in the next fiscal year.

Pendleton said he hopes to have the committee selected and to hold its first meeting within two or three weeks.

At the first meeting, transportation personnel will explain the criteria involved for evaluating an infrastructure project.

The committee will then determine which criteria, such as the impact on public safety or to the public's convenience, are most important and weight them.

Next, transportation personnel will go through a list of all the possible infrastructure projects and assign a score to each based on how it fulfills each criterion and the weight each aspect carries.

After that, the county department will list the projects by their scores and bring the list to the citizen committee.

The group will meet a second time to evaluate and comment on the rankings.

Pendleton said he thinks the citizen committee's final list of priorities will go to the Capital Improvement and Maintenance Program: Long-term.

The CIMPL committee looks at all county projects and determine how they can be funded.

Besides revenue from the optional 1 percent sales tax, the county will receive increased funds from state fuels tax and other sources earmarked for infrastructure.

Finally, the Commission will give have to give approval for work to be done.

Pendleton cautioned that residents might not see dirt moving for some time. After the decision making process, projects go through a specification, design and bid process that can take up to two years.

Pendleton said residents on the optional 1 percent tax citizen committee likely will only have to attend two meetings, but a third may be necessary.

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