The Floyd County Commission is mulling proposed purchases to be included in the 2013 budget it expects to adopt at the end of January.
County Manager Blaine Williams asked department heads to rank the longer lists of items they’re seeking, which are mainly replacements for items that are nearing the end of their lifespans.
“You can see when we defer on capital (spending) now, it pushes it to the future,” Williams said when he presented the board with a five-year projection of needs. “And it’s bunching up.”
Commissioners have been reluctant to allocate money for large purchases since the Great Recession hit county revenue in 2008. Williams said Assistant County Manager Noah Simon helped department heads prioritize items that have been deferred.
“It’s hard, because they say we need all these things now,” Williams said. “But we’ve got limited funds. We’ve got to make the best use of our limited resources.”
Trying to keep the capital budget to $300,000 a year or less won’t work, he said, because it costs $150,000 a year just to rotate obsolete computers out of the various departments. Then there’s the estimated $125,000 earmarked to split the cost of repairs to the Law Enforcement Parking Deck with the city of Rome.
The total proposed for next year is $554,583 from the general fund.
That includes software upgrades for the Juvenile Court and other public safety agencies, a bulldozer and utility spreader for public works and an improved sound system for the County Commission meeting room, which is plagued with acoustical issues.
It also covers two cars for the Floyd County Police Department’s code enforcement detail, at $17,500 each.
“We really need to be replacing nine police cars a year, but we don’t have the money,” Williams said. “A fully equipped patrol car costs about $35,000, and Chief (Bill) Shiflett said it would be better to replace the two environmental officers’ cars than one patrol car. They’re in bad shape.”
All told, there are $11.2 million in capital purchases on the five-year recommended list. Deferring spending again this year would grow next year’s list to $1.7 million.
Commissioners also are reviewing recommended purchases for other county agencies that maintain separate budgets with revenue sources other than property taxes.
The airport needs $238,620, mainly to match federal money for large improvement projects.
The Rome-Floyd Recycling Center wants to spend $115,700 of its savings on eight items ranging from a forklift and shredder to a sump pump and roll-up doors.
The Floyd County Jail has a $202,000 list of facility repairs that includes $120,000 that would be set aside to replace the antiquated door-locking system — a potential fire and security hazard.
Williams said Chief Deputy Tom Caldwell estimates the total cost at $600,000.
“We have to start putting some money away each year in reserve,” Williams said. “We can’t wait until we magically have $600,000.”
The Floyd County Water Department also expects to dedicate nearly $2.6 million to equipment and projects this year, including a $1.9 million re-establishment of the county’s Fulton Road well.
The water department is completely self-funding through customer billing and occasional grants.