NEWS HEADLINES

County outlines expenditure plan

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, December 21, 2013

County officials Monday reviewed a program to fund $15 million in capital expenditures with tax notes.

The money will be used over a five-year period to purchase equipment and vehicles for various county departments, and it prevents the county from having to include those purchases in the budget. Instead, they budget the annual payment, which in this case is just over $3 million.

“It’s better to do this because the money is on hand,” said County Auditor Ann McCuiston. “It lasts throughout that time, and they can only spend it on certain things. It’s all planned.”

Each department had to project capital expenditures, which would include anything over $5,000. Items that could be purchased under the plan include vehicles, equipment, computer software or land.

After seeing those projections, McCuiston presented a tentative plan to commissioners that outlines the purchases. But she said the document isn’t binding; it’s a planning tool.

“The court can still decide where this money goes,” she said. “Last time money was put in the plan for a Precinct 4 barn, but they took that money and used it for (another capital expenditure) because they said the barn wasn’t needed.

“The majority of it is for public safety,” she said. “It’s not frivolous. The Sheriff’s Office and EMS are the biggest part of it.”

The money is put into a separate account and used only for these designated purchases. This is the second time the county has used a capital expenditure plan. The first was in 2008, and that debt will be paid off this year.

Leon Johnson with Southwest Securities outlined the schedule for purchasing the notes at the commissioners meeting and said the funds would be available no later than March 20.

In other business, Sheriff David Walker reported that the jail roof began leaking after the ice storm two weeks ago, and may have to be replaced.

“Where it was crimped together, it came undone in the ice storm,” Walker said.

As of Monday morning, there were 212 inmates in the jail.

“If we have to replace the whole roof, I’d like to do just one portion at a time,” he said. “If inmates have to move out for work, the contractor said insurance might pay for housing them elsewhere.”

In other business, commissioners:

  • approved a policy allowing Wise County non-profit organizations and schools to use the fairgounds at no charge;
  • authorized Walker, Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns and attorney Thomas Aaberg to negotiate a lease with landowners where radio equipment is located; and
  • heard a report from Election Administrator Lannie Noble, who had recently attended a meeting in Austin where new voting systems were discussed. He said 28 counties attended, and he volunteered to be on three related committees.

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