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The Strange Road to Repairing Highwater in Bromley

It was announced last week that Kenton County was the recipient of $300,500 in county road aid funds from the Commonwealth of Kentucky for slide repairs on Highwater Road in Bromley.

County leadership opted to pursue emergency funds from the state even though $500,000 had already been awarded in state transportation funds for the work, but a dispute between the City of Bromley and the county over who should manage those funds, prompted the county to act.

"As a means to resolve the situation, the Highway Department suggested we go this route," said Kenton County Administrator Joe Shriver.

Bromley Mayor Donnie Jobe had questioned the county's signing a contract for work to be done on Highwater using the state funds that were secured by State Rep. Arnold Simpson a few years back. In October, Jobe asked City Attorney Kim Vocke for an update on the situation and Jobe said that he was upset that he knew nothing aboutt he money since coming into office at the beginning of the year and also that the money was already contracted by the county. The money could have been used for other projects in Bromley, Jobe said at the time.

"Since the money is supposed to be spent on Highwater or Main Street or both, I would like to see the money spent resurfacing Main Street, and putting sidewalks and curbs on both sides," Jobe said during September's city council meeting. To Vocke he asked, "Is there any way to acquire the money to be spent on Main street, in the city?"
 
Vocke said that Rep. Simpson helped to set aside the money for Bromley in 2008, and the money was funded in 2014. The previous mayor had apparently allowed for some part of the money to go to the county for repairs on Highwater. Jobe said that the county should have contacted the city before signing the contract for work. Vocke said if the city comes up with some bids for the work on Main Street, he would go to the Transportation Cabinet and the County to let them know the city is not happy that all the money was going to Highwater road when it was allotted for the city of Bromley.
 
It was determined at that council meeting that Councilman Bob France would set about getting bids for the work on Main Street.
 
In around 2007, there were some slips on Highwater Road and then-Judge/Executive Ralph Drees approved some repairs and billed the City of Bromley for the work. The city responded by saying that it did not know it would be liable for payment. Because Highwater is a vital corridor in this part of the county, Kenton County opted to take on responsibility for parts of it and gave back three blocks of Main Street to the city, which the county had assumed responsibility for in the 1990's.

In 2010, the county learned that Bromley would receive $500,000 for Highwater Road. The city was about to resurface Main Street at a cost of about $60,000 but did not have the funds. The county loaned the city $21,000 and secured a state grant for the remainder. The city repaid the county in two years. When Steve Arlinghaus took over as Judge/Exedcutive in 2011, the county was told that the $500,000 could only be used for Main Street or Highwater Road in Bromley.

Though the funds were earmarked for the Bromley project, they were not necessarily made available yet in the state's 6-year road plan. The county approached the city for help in securing the funds because the county had put in nearly $200,000 worth of work on Highwater Road in 2011-12, Shriver said.

There was an agreement between the city and county that the county would handle the state funds for the Highwater Road and Main Street repair projects and the county was reimbursed for its $200,000 work, leaving just over $300,000 remaining.

If the remaining funds are not used for Highwater Road, they are returned to the state, explained Rob Hans, chief engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet - District 6.

"Through a lot of discussion it was determined that the county and the city believed that the remaining funds should not be sued for slides that are occurring so the county requested rural municipal road aid funds. That's what the $300,000 is for, slide repairs," Hans told The River City News. "Any remaining funds out of the $500,000 project that did not go to the county for the resurfacing will remain in that project and the city can make appropriate use of those unused funds at whatever time they so choose and what potential necessary work items they believe they would like to make requests for those funds."

Rep. Simpson said that he hopes Bromley finds use for the funds he secured because with a tight state budget, such dollars are tough to come by. "Once you get the money it's up to the city to work with District 6. Obviously, Bromley feels put out because it's their money," Simpson said. "You probably can't get moe money because the budget is so tight."

Work is currently underway on Highwater Road, after a long road to get there.

Written by Michael Monks and Patricia A. Scheyer