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County gives OK to work program list

POSTED: November 18, 2013 6:44 p.m.

Effingham County commissioners have approved a short-term work program for the current fiscal year, identifying the projects and equipment to be started or bought.


Several of the projects are ongoing, such as the financing for the new jail and sheriff’s office complex, still under construction. As county community relations director Adam Kobek pointed out, inclusion on the list doesn’t necessarily mean the project will be started and completed.


“This is a plan,” he said. “It is not a guarantee. Changes to the duration, scope and cost will be reported to the board during the course of each project.”


Approving the plan does not mean funding for projects in future years is obligated or those projects are under contract.


“Adoption of this plan will authorize staff to begin working on projects just in this fiscal year,” Kobek said. “The adoption of the program will only begin the process. Adoption of this plan does not mean that funding in future years is encumbered or under contract.”


Some projects in the short-term work program could take more than one year to finish. As an example, Kobek cited the Blue Jay-McCall road intersection improvement. Planning and engineering may take place during one fiscal year, and construction could take place the following year.


Interim county administrator Toss Allen urged the need to have plans for Blue Jay Road improvements ready and put out to bid soon. The county has $1.2 million in local maintenance improvement grant money from the state, and some of that has to be spent by July 2014.


Projects not listed in this fiscal year are not authorized to begin and are subject to annual review and changes, Kobek pointed out. The STWP list stretches from fiscal year 2013 to FY17.


“There is no guarantee projects outside this fiscal year will actually be funded and completed or in the time and funding limits as they appear,” he said.


Commissioner Forrest Floyd, who successfully lobbied his fellow board members to include planning money for the Atlas Sand property, said there are recreation needs in his district.


“We’ve been talking about the Atlas property for years. We don’t have anything on our side of the county,” he said. “People on the south end would like to have access to that lake. In nine years, we’ve done nothing with it. I’d just like to see some movement. We own it. We need to do something. It would be a great recreation area.”


Allen said he didn’t have enough information at the time to know how much improvements would cost. Commissioners included $50,000 in planning work for the Atlas Sand property, carving that sum out of $400,000 labeled for Ulmer Park.


“It doesn’t get into the weeds of what it would take to determine the cost,” Allen said.


Allen also said a potential boat ramp at the Atlas tract could mean buying property that currently is not for sale.


“I don’t know if money is even the issue,” he told commissioners.


One of the usages suggested for the Atlas Sand land is a state Department of Natural Resources-operated public fishing area, Allen added.


The approved list includes $490,000 next fiscal year for Courthouse Road Extension, and right-of-way acquisition is part of that total. Work on Patterson, Cherokee and Ogeechee River roads was part of the approval, and those projects are part of the current fiscal year spending.


There is $140,000 in improvements to the LaDessie Zeigler and Courthouse roads fire stations contemplated over the next two fiscal years, and $238,000 for the Tusculum and Pineora stations.


The short-term work program also includes equipment purchases, such as ambulance remounts and fire engines, drainage work, public buildings, roads and technology.


Also part of the projects recommended for funding are work at the Central Learning Center, which the county now owns, and more than $2.2 million in improvements to the recreation complex in Springfield.


The county also will spend $776,000 in ash road repair this fiscal year under the short-term work program, and there is more than $2.4 million suggested for FY15 for work on Low Ground and Zitterour roads.


The current fiscal year also has $50,000 for archiving e-mails. Allen said the county gets between 4 million and 5 million emails a year. The total funding includes hardware and software.


“We’re required to keep some emails for up to seven years,” Kobek said, “and that’s something Outlook can’t keep up with.”


County staff also will bring back the short-term work list in January for FY15.


“If you have a problem with it in year one and there is funding for it in year two,” Kobek said, “we don’t want to start with it in year one. If we don’t intend to spend the money in year two, then let’s not do the project in year one.”


Funding not used this fiscal year will be put back for use in other fiscal years or for other projects, Kobek added.

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