Liberty Township is reducing its road department staff through attrition, township administrator Dave Anderson told ThisWeek.

Liberty Township is reducing its road department staff through attrition, township administrator Dave Anderson told ThisWeek.

As employees retire, the positions will be consolidated and new employees won't be hired, he said.

The decision to decrease the department from nine employees to seven was based on several factors, Anderson said.

Changes in the interpretation of state bidding laws have resulted in road maintenance jobs of a certain size or cost needing to go to contractors, Anderson said, though he could not provide specifics.

"The rules have changed to say you can't do as much with your internal staff and you have to bid it out," Anderson said.

Also, Anderson and fiscal officer Mark Gerber determined the township needs to spend about $400,000 a year to "get on top of" road maintenance, Anderson said.

With the $250,000 the township usually spends annually, it would take 45 years to service all the roads.

"Looking at the life cycle paving analysis for the township and the amount of roads we have, and how much $250,000 bought us do the math 45 years isn't going to make it," Anderson said.

Over the years, the township had built a road department capable of handling large projects, he said, and the new rules prohibit the township from using the workers in that way.

In May, assistant road superintendent Richard Kuhn retired and a new person will not be hired.

Instead, township trustees on June 21 "abolished" the position and combined the responsibilities with the township right of way inspector's post held by Randy Leib.

Trustees also increased Leib's salary from $38,500 to $45,640 for the additional responsibilities.

A similar job combination will occur next year when road superintendent John Walkup retires, Anderson said.

Anderson estimates the reorganization will allow about $150,000 to be moved from wage, benefits and overtime expenses to capital road maintenance costs.

Also, since supervisory positions are assigned a township vehicle, downsizing those positions will require fewer vehicles, Anderson said. Those savings are included in the $150,000 amount.

Township residents should not see a difference in service, Anderson said.

During winter storms, park department employees will assist the road department with salting and plowing the roads as they have in the past. When park employees serve the township in that capacity, they are paid the same hourly rate as road department employees, Anderson said.

Anderson said the township cross trains employees to be able to utilize them where needed.

bbutcher@thisweeknews.com