01/28/13 — Commission to talk facilities

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Commission to talk facilities

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 28, 2013 1:46 PM

An hour-long discussion on a $256,000 budget amendment for renovations at the Wayne County jail last week was used by county commissioners as an opportunity to vest more authority in its facilities committee.

The session was also a springboard to what is shaping up to be a marathon session when the facilities committee meets Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the county manager's conference room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

According to the notice announcing the meeting, the committee will review the county's facilities and facilities plans.

Facilities were identified as one of commissioners' top issues during the retreat. They want a list of all county-owned building, who is in them and whether or not they are paying rent.

"My concern is that there are monies on maintenance spent in other areas other than the jail that have sort of been brought to us in a group today," Commissioner Chairman Steve Keen said during last week's board meeting. "Your new facilities committee, I think, would be better served if we were part of the decision making from this day on in particular reference to the jail."

Keen and Commissioner Wayne Aycock also serve on the committee.

Commissioner Joe Daughtery asked Keen if he was seeking a motion that all budget amendments and matters relating to the jail improvements and other facilities be brought before the facilities committee to make a report before going to the full board.

Keen said that he was, particularly in reference to the jail.

Daughtery's motion to that effect was approved 6-1. Commissioner John Bell voted against the motion. Keen, as he did for most of the meeting, did not raise his hand to vote when he called for the vote. In accordance with policy, not voting is recorded as a yes vote.

Daughtery also made the motion to take the $256,000 from the maintenance and repair line item and put into the professional line item in the detention center budget. It also includes the cost of design work for the elevators and roof at the Health Department.

Daughtery said he had rather shift the funds than make a new allocation from the fund balance.

The motion was approved 7-0. Keen and Bell did not vote and in accordance with policy both were counted as yes votes.

Aycock said he wanted to hear from Mayo as chairman of the facilities committee before a vote.

"I do not have a problem with that (motion) if we have enough money left in the budget for this coming June," Mayo said. "In other words are we in good shape? That is the question. Otherwise we will have to come back for another budget amendment. We need to understand that. I am in favor of the shift."

This is another reason why the county needs a capital improvement plan, Mayo said.

"That way we are not dealing with what we are doing right now," he said. "We have a motion on the floor from Commissioner Daughtery right now."

"I understand that Mr. Mayo that we have a motion on the floor, but I want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to speak," Keen said.

Keen said that the discussion had shifted into capital improvements plans, but that he wanted to stay with a specific discussion on the issue at hand.

"The issue specifically is the taxpayers' money in the bank right now and having to do what I have indicated for four years that I hate -- shifting (funds)," he said. "A line item is what it is. It is put together and it is voted on.

"We have a facilities committee that is onboard that is made up of Mr. Mayo, myself and Wayne Aycock. We are getting together this next Tuesday to talk about all facilities and the jail, including the library, including the DSS building, the old hospital."

There are so many items that commissioners do not have a handle on, and a new budget will be forthcoming in a few months, he said.

"A handle on these funds, how much the county has and where they are going -- my concern for this board is understanding what you are really doing," Keen said." Are you wanting to shift? Do you know what cost shifting means? Do you know what monies will be needed?"

Keen wanted to know if the funds were needed immediately or if the vote could be delayed.

"What we are talking about to today is really the authorization to keep the workers in place to finish what we have already started," said David Cruseturner, managing director of Brennan Management Services that is handling the project for the county.

"So this will avoid work stoppage?" said Commissioner Bill Pate.

That is correct, Cruseturner said.

Both Keen and Mayo, who are Republicans, voted against the original motion in April 2012 to approve a $47,823 budget amendment to hire Brennan Management Services to look at the jail problems and make recommendations to the board.

Sheriff Carey Winders, who also is a Republican, had not been at the meeting, but rushed over when he learned commissioners were discussing the jail and of the opposition.

Winders argued the repairs were not only needed, but long overdue. The project, he said, required an engineer or architect who builds and knows jails.