Local News

Story published: 06-18-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Mayor breaks tie in sheriff’s office cars debate

By Karen Sells
Assistant Editor

Washington County Commissioner Ethan Flynn objected to the purchase of cars for the sheriff’s office being included in the list of capital items to potentially be funded through the proposed debt offering.

“I think the cars need to be put back into the General Fund budget because they are an annual expense,” Flynn said during the June 12 Budget Committee meeting. “Unless the plan is changing, we don’t need to fund them differently for one year.”

Allen Kyker, Communication and Fleet Supervisor, said the Washington County Sheriff’s Office replaces six cars per year.

Mayor Dan Eldridge said the draft 2013-14 General Fund budget is balanced with a $3,000 surplus but would be $200,000 in the hole if the cars were added back.

The cost to finance the cars would be $4,560 over four years, Eldridge said.

“My question is whether we would be better off to do four years of cars like we did with the school buses,” Commissioner Pete Speropulos asked, referring to the county’s recent purchase of three years’ worth of buses at one time.

That would mean buying 24 cars this year. “We don’t have that many high-mileage cars to replace,” Kyker said.

Commissioner Joe Grandy suggested buying six cars at the beginning of the fiscal year and another six at the end, which would be allowed under the debt offering guidelines. But Sheriff Ed Graybeal said auditors advised recurring expenses be placed in the operating budget.

“Let’s not get hung up on the fact that it’s a recurring expense,” Eldridge said. “We’re looking at the cost for a capital asset.”

Flynn asked what the auditors said about including the cars in the debt offering. Eldridge called it a “management decision,” not one to be made by the county auditors.

Flynn made a motion, seconded by Speropulos, to strike the WCSO cars from the debt offering and return the cost to the General Fund budget.

During the vote, Grandy and Meredith were opposed to that plan.

Eldridge broke the tie with a vote to keep the purchase in the debt offering.

“All we did was leave them on the list (of potential items to fund),” Eldridge said. “The full commission can vote to take them off.”

During the June 24 meeting, commissioners will vote separately on each item proposed for the debt offering.