Thursday, December 8, 2001
County may trim project
By SUE WATSON
Hard economic times are causing the Marshall County Board of Supervisors to rethink the overhaul of the courthouse air and heating system.
Money to pay for part of the cost to redesign the system and ditch the old boiler heating system is available, but supervisors are concerned about obligating the taxpayer for another $190,000 in matching funds.
An energy audit was performed using Congress’s economic stimulus dollars and half the cost of the project or more would come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) monies.
The total estimated cost to replace the air and heating system with a modern one was estimated to cost north of $400,000. Bids for the work were in that range and supervisors looked at doing part of the work now but not the whole project.
Basically, the project could be done in stages where the first floor rooms and courtroom would have individual units but the big units that handle heat and air in the second floor courtroom would not be replaced. That could cost about $361,000, said Larry Hall, county administrator. If the big units were replaced, the price jumps to $370,000, he said. And if the judges’ chambers and the jury room were included – that is new service is provided to all rooms on the first two floors – the cost estimate is about $392,000, he said.
Financing of the county’s share could be done over a 15-year period, but by then the system would probably need more work. The old boiler was replaced 15 years ago and supervisors learned that these systems tend to wear out in 15 years or so.
Hall said a decision has to be made quickly because the monies won’t be available for much longer.
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett expressed concern about adding more debt on top of the recent decision to purchase the Piggly Wiggly property. He said he wouldn’t pile up that much debt in his personal finances and he was not comfortable loading up too much debt on the taxpayer.
Hall said the project would cost about $16,000 in debt service for 15 years to do the project.
Following discussions, supervisor Eddie Dixon motioned to proceed with the project and look for financing immediately.
During the meeting, the board also took up whether those who serve on the Solid Waste Board of Directors should be paid $50 per meeting. The board currently meets about four times a year and has about nine board members.
Members of the board had requested the county pay $50 a meeting and make it retroactive for one year.
Outgoing supervisor Willie Flemon said he thinks board members should be paid because many of them have to travel a good distance to attend the meetings.
There is money in the budget to pay attorney fees that has not been spent, Hall said.
Dixon and supervisor Keith Taylor, a member of the solid waste board, expressed interest in paying board members, but Taylor said he didn’t want pay and he didn’t think elected officials serving on the board should be paid since they already are being paid for public service. That would leave just a few who are not elected officials to be paid, they said.
Bennett asked if members of the zoning board are paid. Zoning director Conway Moore said they are paid $100 a meeting if they attend.
“It ought to be a privilege to serve,” he said. “You return to the county.”
With that discussion ended, Dixon motioned to pay the solid waste board members for service, but not retroactively. The motion was seconded by Flemon and passed 4-1 with Bennett voting against the measure.
Members of the Solid Waste Authority include Potts Camp, Byhalia, Holly Springs and Marshall County.
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