Surber says rising costs eroding increased revenue


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — Darke County Engineer Jim Surber recently released his 45th annual report. The report details funds received, projects completed, and expenditures made in 2022. In total, the county received $7.1 million in revenue and spent $6.9 million on projects, payroll, benefits and equipment.

According to Surber, “2022 included challenges like rising prices, difficulty in procuring parts and equipment and being unable to purchase badly needed replacement trucks. As I write this, two dump trucks ordered in August of 2021 will not be delivered until mid-2023; and then possibly only one instead of the two ordered.” The engineer added that his department continues to avoid debt and owns all equipment.

How has the economy and inflation affected the department? Surber said the overhead costs including the cost of utilities, repair parts and fuel has increased. “The most daunting challenge is watching the continuing price increases erode the purchasing power of the precious additional revenue we received from the increased Ohio fuel tax in 2019,” said Surber.

The breakdown of the 2022 receipts are as follows: Fuel Tax – $3,712,100.73; Motor License Fees – $2,611,386.34; Motor License – Permissive – $440,453.72; Sales (salt-grits) – $75,308.81; Recycling – $3,358.65; Reimbursements – $265,845.43 ($113,772.63 for fuel, $4,788.10 for workers’ compensation, and $147,284.70 for other); and Interest – $3,043.26.

The breakdown of the 2022 expenditures are as follows: Resurfacing and Chip-Seal – $2,953,815.55; Bridge Construction and Maintenance – $267,396.63; Wages and Salaries – $1,545,624.41; Fringe Benefits – $686,300.63; Tools, Parts and Repairs – $165,969.64; Fuel (all county departments) – $340,778.30; Utilities/Building Maintenance – $62,395.61; Equipment Purchases – $351,892.85 ($76,567.39 was reimbursed); and Road Maintenance Materials – $608,822.40.

The county resurfaced 28.86 miles of road and chip-sealed 21.32 miles. There were two new bridges constructed, one bridge repaired, and one major culvert replaced. The county also centerline striped 208.10 road miles and edge line striped 359.56 land-miles. The county contracted Walls Brothers Asphalt to complete the resurfacing on 11 roads. The average cost per mile was $92,591. County crews applied chip seal and fog seal on eight different roads with an average material cost of $13,444 per mile. The average cost per road mile for striping was $444.

The two new bridges constructed were on Burns and Miller roads. The Burns Road bridge was completed prior to road resurfacing. The cost of the Burns Road bridge, which was completed by county personnel was $93,143.23. The Miller Road bridge cost $139,268.33.

According to Surber, the county has 302 bridges rated as excellent, 199 rated as good, 11 are rated as fair and four are rated as poor. Of the four bridges in poor condition, one is an historic arch structure on a township road, one is limited to bicycle and pedestrian traffic, one is a closed bridge in an incorporated village and one I owned by the CSX railroad. The average age of the 516 bridges on county and township roads is 36.8 years.

Equipment purchased included a JD 10’ rotary cutter, 8-JD 6105E cab tractors (with trade-in), 2010 Gradall, crack seal machine, two material spreaders and placed half down on two truck bodies.

Surber also noted that seven county road culverts and tile were placed, $41,866.24 was spent on signs and posts and repaired or replaced signs at 1,046 locations and replaced culverts and tile at three locations on township roads. The county used 50,189 gallons of diesel fuel, which is 1,247 gallons less than in 2021 and 8,515 gallons of gasoline, which is 398 gallons more than in 2021. The county also spent $175,019.99 on salt and ice grits and applied 105,000 pounds of crack seal material.

The Darke County engineer is responsible for 522.297 miles of county roads, 365 large culverts, 3,335 acres of right-of-way, 2,228 warning signs, 516 county and township bridges, 1,703 roadway culverts, 819 stop signs and 1,326 road name signs.

To receive the complete report, contact the engineer’s office at 937-547-7375 or email [email protected].

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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