Funds pay for ditch maintenance

Landowners in four Wayne County watersheds will have their legal drain assessments increase 25% this year.

At first glance that seems a large increase, however many landowners will see little or no change to the drain assessments on their property tax bills. Individual assessments for small, residential parcels are often just a few dollars, but the minimum payment is $5. Many will continue paying that minimum amount despite the assessment increase.

Wayne County’s Drainage Board, comprised of the three commissioners, on Feb. 8 approved the assessment increases for the Russell, Eldo Cain and Quigg legal drains. The board had approved the King legal drain increase during its Jan. 11 meeting. Increases of 25% or less do not require public hearings.

Each of the county’s 24 legal drains, which run for more than 50 miles, has its own fund to pay maintenance costs. When the expenses deplete the fund, annual assessments are levied or increased to replenish the fund.

Costs could be for clearing beaver dams or downed trees, repairing or replacing culverts or tiles and cleaning mud and debris to allow free water flow through the drain ditches.

The county surveyor’s office sets a total assessment amount for each ditch’s fund, and the amount is divided among parcel owners based on the acreage owned. Only the part of a parcel included in the designated watershed is assessed.

The Quigg Ditch on the county’s southeast side near Industrial Parkway, Hodgin Road and Henley Road includes 199 parcels for a total $2,343.02 assessment. There are also 17 parcels in Preble County, Ohio, for which the county will ask Preble County to collect assessments and pay the county.

The Russell Ditch northwest of Centerville near Nolands Fork Road includes 42 parcels with a total assessment of $3,122.43.

The Eldo Cain Ditch is north of Hagerstown by Charles and Massey roads. It includes 35 parcels with a total assessment of $2,374.39.

The King Ditch, which was built in 1889, is northeast of the Russell Ditch between King and Round Barn roads. It’s $1,450.83 total assessment includes 58 parcels.

Overall, Wayne County will collect assessments for eight legal drains this year. The others, which have no increase this year, are the Hinshaw Ditch, the O’Brien Ditch, the A.F. Scott Ditch and the Harrison Ditch.

The county also will collect assessments from Wayne County property owners for Randolph County’s Brown and Cox ditches, then turn that money over to Randolph County.

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Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.