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Public Works members vote to remove paving resolutions

Members of the new Public Works Committee had no hesitation going on record with their support of Highway Superintendent Johnny Deakins during their Oct. 13 meeting.
This time last year, a large contingent of commissioners was attempting to direct the county’s paving schedule, despite the state’s assigning that authority solely to the highway superintendent.
A resolution presented at the September 2013 meeting proposed placing all paving outside of the Washington County road system on hold, with the exception of projects already approved by the County-Owned Property Committee.
Because the resolution had not been included in the meeting packet, a two-thirds vote of the commission was needed to approve the motion to suspend the rules and allow the resolution to be considered. The motion failed in a narrow 16-7 vote.
When the resolution returned one month later as an official item on the October 2013 agenda, it was proposed as a non-binding statement of the county’s paving plan.
Deakins objected to the resolution’s challenge of his authority and judgement to perform his job, and asked the commission to deny the request.
Instead, commissioners referred the resolution back to the Public Works Committee to iron out the differences between the committee members and Deakins.
The topic was never discussed again in a formal Public Works meeting prior to the end of the commission term.
“Basically, the state law says I say what roads get paved and when,” Deakins clarified last week. Because there was no official closure to either of the resolutions, he requested action from the committee.
“They just need to be gotten rid of,” he said.
Deakins also consulted with interim County Attorney Tom Seeley about a third resolution establishing a process for the use of the Highway Department for other county departments and municipalities in Washington County.
While commissioners approved that resolution with a unanimous voice vote during the October 2012 meeting, Deakins said the terms, which include, “Any work request for which the cost exceeds $2,500 shall be submitted to the Public Works Committee for review and recommendation,” are in violation of state law.
Commissioner Tom Foster made a motion to remove from consideration all three resolutions as recommended by the county attorney. The motion passed with unanimous approval.