SIDNEY — Shelby County Engineer Bob Geuy talked about his office when he addressed the Kiwanis Club of Sidney, recently.
Geuy is a lifelong resident of Sidney and graduated from Sidney High School. He has been elected Shelby County engineer five times. The engineer’s office has a staff of 30 with six office workers and 24 highway maintenance workers, he said.
The office had its beginnings in 1803 when state law required that the court of appeals appoint a county surveyor. Since the state was still in its infancy, the duties at that time were mainly land titles and boundary disputes.
In 1835, it was decided that this position should be an elected office. The term was set at three years “as long as he behaved well.” Duties were expanded to work with canal officials and the railroad. In the early 1900s, roads, bridges and drainage were added. In 1915, with the impact of the automobile, the job title changed to resident engineer of the state highway department.
Finally, in 1935, the job title changed to county engineer and a four-year term in office was instigated. It is a requirement that the county engineer be both a professional engineer and a professional surveyor. It takes eight years after obtaining a college degree to get a dual license. Geuy also noted that, except for a few counties in Nebraska, Ohio is the only state in the country where the county engineer is an elected official.
Geuy reported that in Shelby County, there are 384 centerline miles of highway, 333 bridges and 1,600 culverts that his office is responsible for. He is also the technical adviser for the 14 townships and the office is responsible for 150 miles of ditch and 140 miles of tiles and waterways. The tax map office also falls under his responsibility.
Highway funding comes from three sources: the gas tax, license plates and the county sales tax. The federal gas tax has not increased since 1993 and stands at 18.4 cents per gallon. The state tax is 28 cents per gallon and has been at this rate since 2005. Shelby County gets 3 cents of this amount. Since the county sales tax was passed in 1997, the county as spent about $55 million on projects with about $39 million coming from the sales tax.