Some say political bickering is halting road repairs in part of -

Some say political bickering is halting road repairs in part of Metro East

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Credit: KMOV Credit: KMOV

Workers who make up an entire road department in the Metro East are without jobs and some say it’s all because of a political bickering.

Recently, the five employees of the St. Clair Township were told to pack up and go home. Some in the middle of their shift.

“It would be great if they could finish the neighborhood,” said resident Bill Douthitt.

Douthitt lives on Wild Rose Drive in Belleville and his street is only half finished. The road crew was in the middle of patching cracks when they were suddenly laid off. The homeowner called the road department.

“[Skip Kernan] said if there were two feet of snow, or the road caved in no one would come out because there was no money in that fund,” explained Douthitt.

Kernan tells News 4 the money is in the budget but the township board will not allow him to move it around to pay his staff their salaries.

“The money is there, it’s a simple budget appropriation transfer, it would take the board less than three minutes to approve,” said Kernan. “They approved the appropriation for the other department but failed to do so for mine simply because it’s a personal and quite frankly political situation.”

Kernan says it goes back to 2015’s budget process. He wanted five employees, but the board said he could have four, claiming there wasn’t enough money. Kernan went ahead and hired the five employees he says his department needs.

Dave Barnes, St. Clair Township Supervisor, says the board did not vote to re-appropriate the money.

“Well if you allow someone to do what they knew was wrong in the first place, you’re in essence saying ‘okay you go and do whatever you want’ and then come back to me for money,” said Barnes.

Barnes says there is more money in the road department budget, but at this point there’s nothing the board is willing to do.

“He should have followed the rules on April 6 a year ago,” said Barnes.

While Barnes says he doesn’t think it’s political, its residents like Douthitt that are bearing the brunt of the back and forth.

“It’s very frustrating, we pay a lot of taxes here and to find out that they don’t want to free up the money for basic road repair, very disappointing,” said Douthitt.

The board is meeting Tuesday to discuss the upcoming year’s budget which goes into effect April 1. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. but Kernan is holding a special session to discuss the road department situation at 6:00 p.m.

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