Thursday, April 22, 2004

Monroe asks into Ohio 63 planning



By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MONROE - City officials say they didn't attend Butler County meetings about extending Ohio 63 west because they haven't been invited.

"We weren't informed about the meeting at all," said Bill Brock, city manager and city engineer.

County commissioners, Trenton city officials, the Miller Brewing Co. plant manager and County Engineer Greg Wilkens have met twice this month to discuss reviving the highway extension to link Trenton to Monroe and Interstate 75.

Brock said he'd like to hear about county plans to use tax receipts from future subdivisions - $18.6 million in Monroe and $14.3 million in Trenton - to fund the county's match on the $58 million highway.

But he made no commitment for Monroe, which could soon be placed under fiscal emergency or fiscal watch by the state auditor for deficits in 2002 municipal budget accounts.

"If it's a redirection of the property taxes, we'd need to know how it affects the city," Brock said.

"We've always said we're not opposed to the (Ohio 63 extension) project - but we don't see any big economic development for Monroe in it," he said.

Trenton leaders were a major force in reopening talks about the highway, which was declared dead in December by Wilkens when the state withdrew $27.7 million from the project. County Administrator Derek Conklin said Monroe officials "should be invited from here on out" to Ohio 63 meetings.

Even if the county can tap this funding stream, it has a big decision to make on Ohio 63. Tuesday, commissioners discussed whether to spend $600,000 for a one-year study on a new route connected to the Ohio 4/Ohio 63 interchange north of LeSourdsville Lake - and then try to convince state and federal highway officials to support the design.

Or the county could stick with the route approved by state and federal authorities, which goes northwest from Salzmann Road and crosses Ohio 4 north of the new Monroe firehouse.

E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com




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