REACH Budget Gives Commissioners Food For Thought

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While REACH Director Angela King was busy Saturday morning working to keep the children of Cannon County healthy, the County Commission was checking into the welfare of her program's budget.

Concerned was raised during the commissioners' review of the County General Quarterly Report over a line item which showed REACH food expenses to be $57,472.01 in excess of what was budgeted.

King was at Brown-Spurlock Park during the meeting, which was held at the Cannon County Courthouse, putting on the annual Children's Health Fair.

Contacted following the meeting, King said several factors had to be taken into consideration when reviewing that budget item.

"Number one is that food is just a portion of that expense. Money from that account also goes to pay for things such as tutors, supplies and activities. I do see how the way it's listed in the report can be a little confusing, but that's just how the county executive's office does it. However it's not all for food," King said.

King also said she was confident the money to get that REACH account out of the red would be coming in by the end of the current fiscal year through grants.

REACH, which is an afterschool program serving county children, receives all of its funding through state and federal grants. The county supplements REACH's budget each year until the grants are received, but is not supported by local property taxes not sales tax the county receives.

Commissioners also reviewed other budget amendments submitted by the various county departments. One item of note was the Cannon County Heath Department received a state grant of $151,100 for H1N1 Clinic costs and for a dentist, dental assistant and an outreach worker.

The health department also received an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant of $10,860 to replace flooring and purchase medical equipment.

The county received a grant from ARRA of $20,489 to purchase an x-ray machine for the courtroom, and $261,476 as reimbursement for the Courthouse Revitalization Project.

Commissioners Mark Barker, Nathan Nichols, Karen Ashford, Todd Hollandsworth, Kevin George, Greg Mitchell, Joe Wimberly and Bob Stoetzel voted to approve the budget amendments and quarterly reported. Commissioners Rebekah Parton and Kevin Mooneyham cast no votes.

Commission Punts Energy Savings Plan Back To School Board

If the Cannon County Board of Education had any hope of receiving the backing of the county commission on moving forward with a proposed energy savings project, they didn't receive it Saturday.

Following a presentation by Katelynn Pastor of Schneider Electric on the company's proposal to save the school system money on its electric bill, a majority of county commissioners voted to send the matter back to the school board without agreeing to support the project if the school board decides it wants to move to the next phase.

The school board was looking for the commission's approval of the project before moving to the development stage. Because the county manages the schools' budget the school system wanted to get the county's approval first before making a financial commitment.

Should the school board decide at some point to move forward with the building improvement program, it would be committing to an expenditure of $45,782. The school system would have to pay Schneider that amount for an "Investment Grade Audit" even if the program is not executed; otherwise, the cost would be rolled into the overall financing of the project.

The total cost of the project if undertaken is anticipated to be around $1.5 million. Schneider is willing to guarantee that its energy management system, chiller replacement at the high school and lighting occupancy sensors will save the school system that amount over a 15-year period, or else make up the difference out of its own pocket.

Schneider projects potential annual savings of $83,045 and $1,245,810 over a 15-year period. The company also says it can likely receive a grant of $48,400, an up to $3 million, 3 percent loan (12 years) and a $500,000, zero percent loan (7 years) from the Energy Efficient Schools Initiative, plus a $100,000 Community Facilities Grant to help fund the project.

Although Schneider says the project will require no new taxes, most commissioners felt that the school board should commit to the plan before they did.

• Also at Saturday's meeting, commissioners voted to extend the inter-local communications agreement that was signed in 2006 and was effective July 1, 2007 giving the 911 District control of all emergency communications and to facilitate the move from the Sheriff's Department and into the 911 communications center, which was completed on April 14, 2008.

The 911 District proposed the county contribute $115,473 for the fiscal year 2010-2011, the same amount as the last three years.

Commissioners Nichols and Stoetzel voted against extending the agreement on the grounds that when it was first agreed to three years ago, 911 District officials said that after that period the service would be paid for by local telephone taxes.

• Passed a resolution to support the construction of a communications tower on Pleasant Ridge to increase the county's radio coverage in the county and the District Five, Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). The project is funded by the District five UASI Homeland Security District and was acquired through the Cannon County Office of Emergency Management as a Home Land Security grant.
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