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County leaders looking to borrow $9.2M for capital projects

Washington County Budget Committee members finalized a list of capital projects for the proposed debt offering that has grown to more than $9 million with a few last-minute additions.
During the June 12 meeting, Mayor Dan Eldridge said a recommendation was needed from committee members so the bond counsel and investment firm could have all resolutions completed for presentation to the full county commission.
“The decision made today does not commit Washington County to the full resolution,” Eldridge said. “We can pull out any items the full commission decides not to fund.”
Members conducted the first formal review of the project list during a called Budget Committee meeting on June 7.
The only change approved at the time was a $240,000 increase in the line for an operating system for administration that will keep the county in compliance with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
During the second review last week, committee members discussed each proposed capital item separately.
Commissioner Mitch Meredith asked if safety measures for the schools are included in the list, but Director of Schools Ron Dykes said the recommendations are not yet available for consideration.
“I wanted to make sure we’re not funding capital costs through the sheriff’s office,” Meredith said. “Those should be (funded) through the schools.”
Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal said that is his understanding also.
A question about the increased cost of renovations for the District Attorney’s office in the George P. Jaynes Justice Center led Meredith to make a motion to reduce the amount from $305,000 to $150,000. The change was approved.
On separate motions by Commissioner Pete Speropulos, both unanimously approved, a line item to replace a Zoning Department vehicle for $26,000 was added to the list, and $42,000 for mapping equipment was added to the line item for computers/other equipment in offices.
A new line item for bridge repair and replacement was proposed after Highway Superintendent Johnny Deakins asked to use a portion of the $610,000 from the trucks and equipment line for that purpose.
“I would rather pay for the trucks out of my operating budget and use capital funds for infrastructure,” he said.
Because the debt offering is part of a goal to move capital expenditures out of the operating budgets, committee members decided to add $450,000 for repair and replacement of the bridges on Austin Springs and Rock House roads to the list of capital needs.
At the end of the discussion, Commissioner Joe Grandy moved to recommend the list of capital projects and equipment as amended to the full commission. Speropulos seconded the motion, which passed with unanimous approval.
The total debt offering is now $9.2 million. The annual principal and interest payment for the debt service will be divided among several county funds.
The recommendation will be considered at the June 24 county commission meeting.