Wayne County will pay nearly $130,000 in additional insurance premiums the next 12 months than during the past 12 months.

The county’s insurance runs July 1 to June 30, and county commissioners heard a presentation by Andy Brown of Gregory & Appel Insurance of Indianapolis during their June 26 meeting. Commissioners unanimously voted to use Travelers Insurance except for remaining with the Indiana Public Employers’ Plan for worker’s compensation insurance. Travelers replaces Liberty Mutual, which stopped insuring counties.

The accepted plan carries an $833,403.61 premium price tag. That’s an increase of $129,692.43 (18.4%) over premiums paid the 12 months that ended June 30.

Brown credited the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office for its enforcement and jail accreditations that led to two carriers competing for the county’s general liability coverage. Travelers reduced its cost $35,000 to earn the business. Law enforcement and jail liability lead companies to opt against insuring counties.

Brown also recommended the county explore switching to a self-insured program.

“This county’s good enough, this county’s large enough to consider something like that in the future,” Brown said. “Then you have more control over your destiny.”

Commissioners agreed to revisit that conversation.

Bridge costs

Brandon Sanders, the county engineer, addressed commissioners about bridge costs.

During the current South G Street project, additional concrete repairs outside the bid price have been discovered. Commissioners agreed to have the bridge’s arches and piers repaired now rather than repairing only the arches and needing to later repair the piers. The work is expected to add $222,000 to the bridge cost that already exceeds $3.7 million.

Richmond Community Schools has also requested fencing for the bridge as a safety feature against suicide attempts. That fencing essentially doubles the additional expense.

Commissioner Jeff Plasterer said he had an initial discussion with RCS Superintendent Curtis Wright about RCS helping fund the fence. Commissioners did not commit to the fence; however, Sanders said a final decision will be needed during July or the beginning of August. If commissioners opt for the fence, that time line would permit fabrication of the fencing without extending the project’s completion date.

The G Street bridge project is one of eight for which the county is receiving federal funding through the Indiana Department of Transportation. The federal match was 80% on initial construction estimates; however, rising construction costs have driven up estimates while INDOT is not providing additional funds. That’s leaving the county about $4.6 million short on the eight projects.

Sanders said there’s about a $640,000 shortfall for the Sample Road bridge project that is due for letting July 10. It also leaves about a $765,000 shortfall on a Heiney Road project that’s scheduled to let Oct. 9.

Commissioners unanimously voted to proceed with the $2 million Sample Road project and to approach Wayne County Council for funding options.

Commissioners did not commit to the $2.2 million Heiney Road project. That bridge has been closed at least five years waiting for replacement.

Other business

  • A memorandum of understanding with Children’s Bureau, which operates Family Resource Center on North 12th Street in Richmond, received unanimous approval for the county to pay $22,367.98 for half the cost of building renovations. The county and city of Richmond each committed $25,000 toward renovations through the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program.
  • Mike Sharp, the county’s highway supervisor, received commissioner approval to purchase a 2023 Freightliner single-axle dump truck from Stoops Freightliner in Anderson for $96,000.
  • At Emergency Management Agency Director Matthew Cain’s request, commissioners approved a mutual aid agreement among the 13 counties in the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s District 6. The district revisited the agreement following the March tornado that struck Randolph County.
  • Wayne County’s 2024 hazardous materials plan update received unanimous commissioner approval.
  • Commissioners approved the low bid of $2,075.63 by Friends Office for a new Superior Court 3 desk.
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A version of this article appeared in the July 3 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

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