Fiscal court commits the rest of county’s ARPA money; County to work with Brandstetter Carroll on designing new jail

BY FIONA MORGAN

fiona@amnews.com

The Fiscal Court approved allocations for the rest of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money at their meeting on May 11.

Boyle County received about $5.8 million of ARPA funds to help with lost revenue due to the pandemic. County Administrator Julie Wagner said they have heard from Congress that they may soon be taking back any ARPA money that hasn’t been committed to projects.

The court agreed that it’s in their best interest to commit the rest of their money now to avoid losing it. They have about $1,189,800 left, for which they made the following allocations:

• $4,000 to Animal Control for each truck to have professional grade dog boxes to secure animals during pickups.

• $193,000 for cabin roof repair at Constitution Square Park, and repair to the post office and jail cabin for termite damage.

• $195,000 for three vehicles for the Sheriff’s Department for new officers.

• $75,000 for a Dodge truck for the coroner.

• $75,000 for a Dodge vehicle for the Emergency Management Agency.

• $65,000 for a chase vehicle for Emergency Medical Services.

• $155,000 for a Dodge pickup for Recycling, and two trash compactors. Wagner said the goal is to get compactors on a regular budget year so they’re not buying five or six at once.

• $65,000 for a vehicle for the county judge executive. Wagner said they could look into used vehicles to keep costs low.

• $225,000 for a rubber tire loader for Public Works.

• $8,000 for a copier and three speed high fast scanners for Tax Administration.

• $29,800 for a server, Macbook, firewall, and emergency OC upgrades for the IT Department.

• $100,000 for building an addition at Public Works for Fleet Management to work on vehicles.

Some final numbers may be less than budgeted for, as Wagner said they overestimated some expenses so as not to go over the budget.

“The goal was to try to touch every department with a little bit of ARPA money and spend it in such a way that it relieves our budget,” Wagner said.

Judge Executive Trille Bottom said if they have any money left over it can go to something else.

Jail contract and inspection results

The court agreed to sign a contract with design firm Brandstetter Carroll to design a new facility for the Boyle County Detention Center. The process started in 2018 when Brandstetter Carroll completed a study of the jail and recommended a new facility.

“I would recommend we continue our relationship with Brandstetter Carroll because nobody understands the needs and what we’re dealing with at the jail better than them,” Jailer Brian Wofford said.

Wofford explained that the next step is for the county to find and acquire land for the new jail. Mercer County likely would not help pay for the new jail, and if so, the joint jail system would go away, and Mercer would pay daily rates for inmates.

The jail also received recent inspection results. One item of noncompliance is that several cells exceeded the rate capacity at the time of inspection. Wofford said they couldn’t correct this issue, as those are specific maximum security cells to keep people separated from others, and those cells are full.

Another item of noncompliance was a lack of hot water in a few cells, and other plumbing issues. Wofford said the jail is always having plumbing issues, and those items have been resolved.

The inspection stated that four deputies did not receive the 24 hours of annual in-service training. The jail’s plan of action included that one deputy did receive the training, and the other deputies have been counseled on the importance of completing the training.

In other business:

• County Treasurer Darlene Lanham gave a report on a long process of receiving the final audit for fiscal year 2020 to 2021. She said there were three findings in the audit. One was a simple mistake in the fourth quarter report. Another was a lack of adequate internal controls over cash transfers, which Lanham said was resolved when she came into the position and better documented cash transfers on paper.

The third finding was that they didn’t prepare a Scheduled Expenditure of federal awards. Lanham said they recently completed one for that year. Bottom said this audit happened under the previous treasurer, and that Lanham has done a good job correcting issues.

• The court passed the second reading of an ordinance issuing bonds for Centre College. They will issue Educational Facilities Revenue and Refunding Revenue Bonds for approximately $70 million. The proceeds will be loaned to Centre College to finance all or a portion of the remaining costs of the development of new athletic facilities.

• The court approved a preliminary engineering cost estimate of $20,000 for the new Buster Pike bridge, which was recently demolished.

• The court appointed Magistrate Steve Sleeper to the EDA committee. Magistrate John Caywood of the previous fiscal court held this position, but it has been vacant since January.

• Magistrate Paula Bodner said she has been working on the possible Alum Springs bike park project. She said the EPA deemed the old landfill site would be safe to use for a bike park, and they will start looking into grants and funding.

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