With the county planning to keep the millage rate the same, and spend about $11.4 million in property taxes next year, it’s important to note that while constitutional officers consume about two-thirds of that, the rest goes to county departments, the hospital and health department and a variety of non-governmental entities.

With almost no exceptions, each of these entities kept their budget requests the same as the current fiscal year.

The biggest issue with the road department, led by Howard Nabors, was the best way to replace aging trucks.

The $1.52 million budget, entirely funded by gas tax revenues, remains unchanged, but Nabors said there could be some need to replace 15-year-old dump trucks, which have 500,000 miles on them

He said he had talked to the Mack Trucks people, and they have offered a $12,000 per year lease, actually 13 months, or a $110,000 price tag to buy one outright.

“I would try to lease it just for a year,” Nabors said. “Every 13 months they bring you a new dump truck, that’s something we could look into.”

Commissioner Cheryl Sanders said dirt roads can contribute to the trucks being down, especially if the road base is too fine.

Nabors said one of the three dump trucks, that has the road bed on it, is 17 years-old, and that the other two are used every day.

“The front end loaders are pretty good, grass tractors is good,” he said. “We need a bush hog bad, the one we got is 5 years old and it keeps breaking down. I’ve priced that at $16,000.”

Nabors’ budget was tentatively approved by the commissioners, unanimously.

The big challenge facing the solid waste department, overseen by Fonda Davis, is how to address the costs of the county taking over the transfer station next year.

The department’s $1.01 million budget was tentatively approved after lengthy discussion about how to address the overhead costs of the takeover, which is ahead of schedule.

Davis said the costs of making the 40-year-old transfer station “operable like it should be,” beginning in the spring, could run as much as $260,000, which includes replacing the compactor and chute, bringing in a used truck, and making concrete repairs as well adding a new storage shed. In addition a new position with salary and benefits will have to be added, beginning in March or April.

“You don’t need it today?” asked Chairman Smokey Parrish.

“We have to assume the transfer station ASAP,” Davis said. “The contract runs out in March 2018.”

Erin Griffith, the county’s assistance finance director, said if the position was funded from March to October 2018, it would only cost $21,4000.

“It would be nice to have it (the position) in house first,” Davis said.

“You could move over an experienced person and hire a newbie,” Parrish said. “Promote somebody.”

Davis said the could would have to adjust the tipping fees when it assumes from Waste Pro the role of running the transfer station.

Commissioner Ricky Jones suggested the county could rethink its policy on offering free yard debris pickup.

“People aren’t paying for it, the county is,” he said. Is it feasible to get rid of roadside pickup? It looks horrible; we can’t keep up with as much as people are putting out. The county spends a lot of money doing that and it’s free.”

Davis said residents “feel they’re getting benefit from their tax dollar. Everybody seems to be working with us pretty good.”

Commissioner Noah Lockley said that if the debris pickup was ended, “they’re still not going to take it to the landfill. They’re going to take it to the bushes.”

Davis said the lifespan of the current landfill is at least another decade, after Sanders asked whether the county would need to start negotiating for additional land.

The commissioners OKd Davis’ budget, but put the expenditures for the transfer station into the capital outlay fund,

“We won’t put it in there (the solid waste) until eye actually need it,” said Griffith.

The courthouse maintenance budget item remains at $264,765, and serves seven locations, the courthouse and annex in Apalachicola, the annex in Carrabelle, the supervisor of elections office in Apalachicola, the Chapman Auditorium, the public defender’s office and the old jail storage building.

Some improvements for disabled access are planned for the public defender’s office, which is getting a new bathroom.

There also was no change to the building department’s $215,231 expenditure, nor to the $144,267 spent on planning and zoning, or the $96,033 spent on administrative services.

Animal control will continue to get $152,763, and the solid waste grant remains unchanged at $90,909.

Parks and recreation will receive $552,366, with $25,000 of that coming from a Tourist Development Council funding for a permanent part-timer to help with beach cleanup costs.

Emergency management will continue to get $212,846, with $105,806 of that from a state grant, $53,532 from a federal grant, and the remaining $53,508 from the county.

Mosquito control will again get $188,340, which includes a $32,468 state grant. The veterans service office will again receive $60,841.

 

NEXT WEEK: A LOOK AT HEALTH SPENDING AND THE NON-GOVERNMENTALS