Interlocal plan with City blocked

An Interlocal agreement between the City of Red Lodge and Carbon County for the realignment and reconstruction and pavement of Airport Road fell at the first hurdle last week when two commissioners, John Grewell and Doug Tucker, felt the project was a “misuse of county funds.” “The City receives the revenue to maintain that street, and the county receives revenue to maintain county roads,” said Grewell. “We get a lot of complaints about the condition of county roads, even the last mayor of Red Lodge complained about the condition of 2-Mile Road saying it was the worst road in the area. And the answer he got was ‘we’re doing the best we could with what we had.’ I don’t think the county’s infrastructure is in such a condition that we can take resources for county maintenance and put them into an incorporated city that is already receiving revenue for that street’s maintenance.” Commissioner John Prinkki pointed out, prior to the motion to accept had been turned down, that Airport Road gives access to the Carbon County Fairgrounds and the airport and is used by “a lot of traffic” including County road crews as well as EMS services. “It’s in a deteriorating condition and this is a good opportunity to repair that road,” he said. He felt that Carbon County’s investment of using a motor grader, a roller, and two operators over 3 days of construction time at an estimated cost $7,000, mostly inkind, made for a “good project.” “We share that road. State statute encourages Interlocal agreement, for joint projects,” said Prinkki. “If the county wasn’t going to do it for nothing, then the City would have to hire a private contractor, so in essence we are doing the work of a private contractor for nothing. And I don’t think government should be involved with competing with private contractors. The work doesn’t belong to the county. It’s not in the county,” said Grewell. Included in this project, which will see the junction of Airport Road lined up with Lazy M Road along Highway 78 during the reconstruction projects, was the proposal to pave the gravel road running south of the fairground into Remington Ranch. “There were a lot of small moving pieces we were working on behind the scene to try and make this happen, obviously fiscal year 14 isn’t the year to do this,” said Forrest Sanderson, Community Development director. “There were a lot of things we were hoping to correct with Airport Road during the realignment of the Highway project.” Grewell added that the decision was “not directed at Red Lodge.” “Joliet wanted help with their shop and we couldn’t do it. It’s unfortunate the whole commission wasn’t involved at the beginning,” he said.