Expressing reluctance, members of the Prairie Township board of trustees announced at their March 24 meeting that they would take money from their rainy-day fund to pay for road projects the coming fiscal year.

Expressing reluctance, members of the Prairie Township board of trustees announced at their March 24 meeting that they would take money from their rainy-day fund to pay for road projects the coming fiscal year.

The board approved more than $10.9-million in permanent appropriations at its regular meeting and authorized a letter of notification to the Franklin County Budget Commission to take $250,000 from the township's rainy-day fund.

Trustee Steve Kennedy said the current economy and declining investment revenue are to blame for the shortage of township funds to pay bills.

"For this year and next year," Kennedy said, "the township will take $250,000 from the rainy-day fund for road work and hope that the economy turns around."

He said the township generally allocates about $300,000 for road maintenance projects each year. Because of economic factors, the board could only come up with $140,000 to devote to roads this year.

Kennedy said the trustees talked about several scenarios that would allow the township to fund roads at the $300,000 level, but none were as enticing as taking from the rainy-day fund.

"We talked about a reduction in staff, enacting furloughs ... it was ugly," Kennedy said. "We had several discussion through e-mail on how to handle it. Historically we have used the rainy-day fund to fund roads."

Kennedy said there was a consensus among the board that the road work had to be done. It was important that the board did not raise taxes or try and seek collection of 1.6 mills in inside millage at this time, he said.

"The worst thing to do is raise taxes," Kennedy said. "It's not a good option right now."

He said use of the rainy-day fund will only be temporary. After two years, there will have to be another fix, he said.

Money from the rainy-day fund will be placed in a special road district fund that was created by the last board of trustees and has never been used before. There is approximately $9-million in the rainy-day fund and in past years it has generated $500,000 annually, Kennedy said.

"This is not an easy decision, but the best decision at this time," Kennedy said. "We hope the JEDD (Joint Economic Development District) and the economy will turn around. If not, we may be forced to look at other options."

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