Friday November 27th, 2015 5:47PM

Habersham commissioners discuss capital projects

By Rob Moore Reporter
CLARKESVILLE - In a work session that went nearly twice as long as their one-hour goal, Habersham County Commissioners met Monday to discuss budgets.

Commissioners heard from several department heads regarding their capital project budgets for the upcoming five years.

Building and Grounds Director Mike Bramlett discussed the need for roof replacements at the senior center, health department, and Avita Community Partners buildings in Fiscal Year 2015.

There was also a discussion of the need to replace the roof at the Clarkesville-Habersham County Library.

"There already are some leaks," said Commission Chairman Chad Henderson of the library roof. "It's getting bad."

Bramlett also discussed the possible purchase of two replacement Ford F-150 pickup trucks, in FY 18 and FY 19.

Commissioner Natalie Crawford suggested the county explore purchasing low-mileage surplus vehicles as an alternative to buying new.

Commissioners heard that Code Enforcement Officer Sam Irvin's Ford Crown Victoria, which has 140,000 miles, received under warranty a new transmission Monday and should be good for another year.

Irvin's car will be painted in the coming year, and Commission Vice Chair Andrea Harper reminded officials to make sure it is marked with Habersham, not just Code Enforcement as it currently is.

County Manager Phil Sutton budgeted for a new vehicle, but has pushed that purchase to FY 17.

Sheriff Joey Terrell has requested five new cars. That request was lowered by county officials to four cars per year for four years, then two cars in the fifth year.

Habersham County Fleet Manager Steve Seabolt told commissioners the county still has several 2008 Dodge Chargers on the road, some with 140,000 to 160,000 miles.

"It's sort of a safety thing," Seabolt said of those high-mileage cars responding at high speeds. "Things are wearing out."

Responding to a question from commissioners, Seabolt said the shop has replaced numerous front end parts and rear end parts on the Chargers, but so far hasn't replaced an engine - though that could be forthcoming.

Seabolt noted a previous commission replaced 14 vehicles in the sheriff's office over the course of 18 months.

"Fourteen at once was ridiculous," Henderson said.

Terrell already has purchased two new vehicles this budget year, with two more being bought soon.

Crawford questioned why the county is purchasing four new sheriff's vehicles this year rather than two new ones and two used ones.

Seabolt said the used cars were to come from the Georgia State Patrol, but by the time the county acted to secure them they no longer were available.

The district attorney's office is requesting a vehicle replacement for FY 19.

Economic Development Director J.R. Charles said the development authority owes $1.164 million on the Miller Logistics building and land in the county industrial park in Baldwin.

The building cost when built was $900,000, though it's valued at $500,000 now. Currently the industrial development authority is making payments of $10,000 per month for the building and land.

With only $130,000 in the bank, "We will be insolvent by the end of this year," Charles said of the authority. "That's why I put that in [FY 15]."

Commissioners agreed they would not be able to retire the authority's debt in FY 15, and would have to address it when the time comes rather than through the Capital Improvements Projects (CIP) Fund.

Citing safety issues, E-9-1-1 Director Lynn Smith discussed the need for perimeter fencing at the center in Mt. Airy.

"It was approved, but it was never done," Smith said. "It has become a little more of a safety issue."

Another project Smith discussed is the need for the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, which houses all the information.

Smith said the CAD was updated in 2006, but noted no hardware or software upgrades have been done since that time.

"One year to us is like three years to everybody else" because of 24-hour-a-day use, Smith said of the computers in the dispatch center.

County officials discussed the possibility of three-year equipment leases for the 9-1-1 center.

EMS Director Jack Moody and EMS Maintenance Director Doug Caudell discussed the county's eight ambulances.

Five ambulances are manned, with one available for immediate backup, one for mechanical backup, and one equipped with ramps and other equipment to handle bariatic patients. The ambulance fleet logs 195,000 miles annually.

Fleetwide, the eight trucks have 58,772 hours. Caudell pointed out one hour running is equivalent to 40 miles of wear and tear.

Trucks in the fleet include:

* Med 1, a 2001 Freightliner with 230,000 miles and 111,000 hours for an equivalent 455,000 miles, which serves as a front-line truck;

* Med 2, a 2005 unit with 132,000, which serves as the bariatic truck;

* Med 3, a 2009 unit with 163,000 miles;

* Med 4, a 2005 unit with 136,000 miles;

* Med 5, a 2008 unit with 200,000 miles and 10,053 hours. This unit is the next scheduled for replacement;

* Med 6, a 2009 unit with 159,000 miles;

* Med 7, a 2012 unit with 56,200 miles;

* Med 8, a 2013 unit with 37,800 miles; and

* Retired Med 8, which is out of service at the county shop and could be remounted on a new cab and chassis. The current cab and chassis have logged 200,000 miles.

Fire Chief Jeff Cain said turnout gear and other equipment is necessary in FY 15, but the $345,000 pumper truck purchase in the FY 15 budget could be put off a year.

Commissioners said pushing the two-year fire truck replacement plan to a three-year plan should be satisfactory.
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