Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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Graham, NC 27253
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Interim mgr. persuades commissioners to OK last-minute spending before budget


Before she road tested her proposed spending plan on Monday, Alamance County’s interim manager presented a couple of changes to the county’s current annual budget that she urged the board of commissioners to pass ahead of the new financial cycle.

The interim manager, Sherry Hook, ultimately persuaded the commissioners to approve two of these off-budget earmarks – one for $258,908 to bankroll the county’s family justice center and another for $400,000 to cover the replacement cost for a pair of ambulances.

For each of these potential expenditures, Hook asked the commissioners to set the necessary revenue aside in the county’s financial reserves. She said that, in the case of the family justice center, the designated savings would only be used if the agency fails to obtain a grant that has previously paid for much of its operations. Meanwhile, the funds set aside for two ambulances would allow the county to order the vehicles – which Ray Vipperman, the county’s EMS director, said will have a lead time of 18 to 24 months before the wheels hit the road and the county is obligated to settle the bill.

In a subsequent interview, Hook acknowledged that she had deliberately left these items out of her proposed budget because she didn’t believe the county’s projected revenues could sustain them. Nor was she willing to earmark the savings needed to cover these items in the new budget. Although Hook was hard pressed to explain precisely how designating the same amount of savings in the current fiscal year is any different, she did make it clear that, if all goes as she hopes, neither of the two outlays will be expended this year or in the forthcoming cycle.

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Hook pointed out that the funds for the family justice center will only be spent if the agency’s aforementioned grant doesn’t come through. Meanwhile, the money for the ambulances won’t be expended until the vehicles are actually delivered – no sooner than 18 months down the road.

The commissioners went on to give both of these late-year budget amendments their unanimous blessing.

The commissioners extended a unanimous nod to three contracts that Hook had assured them were already factored in to her proposed spending plan.

The first of these contracts guarantees Alamance Cleaning a three year commitment to provide janitorial services for the county’s facilities. According to Hook, this locally-based company, which current provides these same services to the county, has agreed to continue its work at a rate of $27,801.34 a month. Hook added that this figure was the lowest responsible bid that the county received from the six companies which competed for this particular contract.

The commissioners also signed off on a second contract with Norris Lawn and Landscapes to provide mowing, landscaping, and snow removal services on the grounds of county facilities.

Hook told the commissioners that Norris has agreed to handle the county’s snow removal services for roughly $15,000 and will trim the grass for a fee of $3,474 “per cut.” She added that these quotes were the lower of the two bids which the county received for these services.

Meanwhile, the commissioners approved a contract with Wilson Tire and Automotive to repair and maintain the county’s 422-vehicle motor fleet. Although Wilson’s contract has no anticipated dollar amount, Hook said that the county generally spends $225,000 a year on these services.

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