ROGERSVILLE — Despite another tight budget anticipated for Hawkins County in 2018-19, the Buildings Committee recommended $355,000 in new spending Tuesday to cover the cost of projects that can't be put off another year.
Last year, the County Commission cut about $866,000 worth of proposed building repair and upgrade projects, many of which will have to be postponed at least another year until the general fund budget has built up enough reserve to get them done.
But Alana Roberts, county building manager, told the Buildings Committee on Tuesday that two major projects can't be held another year, including a new roof for the Hawkins County Health Department building in Rogersville.
The second major project recommended for inclusion in the 2018-19 budget by the committee is a state mandated new sewage system for the Hawkins County Jail to prevent materials that cause clogs from flowing from the jail into the Rogersville sewer system.
With new revenue from last year's $40 wheel tax increase coming in well below what was projected, commissioners are bracing for another tight budget process to complete the 2018-19 budget.
Budget hearings begin in early May.
Why can’t the projects be postponed another year?
Roberts told the Buildings Committee on Tuesday that if the leak above the dental area of the Health Department building isn't fixed soon, there's a possibility that mold will set in.
"It's traveling down the hallway into the stairway, so the water is actually coming into the building," Roberts told the committee. "I've had an engineer come look at it. He's examined the area, and he found that the roofing materials have detached from the building, and that's from age. It's allowing the wind to get under the roofing materials, and with all the heavy rains we've had, it's caused the insulation to really be soaked, and it's not drying out. There is a danger of mold if we don't make some corrections sometime in the next few months."
Roberts said the engineer recommended a replacement, as opposed to a patch, because the 12,373-square-foot roof is only two years from reaching the end of its projected life expectancy.
The engineer said that it would be a waste of money to repair the roof and then have to replace it a couple of years down the road anyway, Roberts noted.
The engineer gave a rough estimate of $150,000 to replace that roof, but he was going to have a roofing contractor come in and make a more accurate estimate before the project moves ahead any further.
As for the jail sewer system, both Rogersville and Hawkins County were ordered by the state to upgrade their sewer systems after a sewer line on Main Street became clogged by materials that were apparently flushed down the commode by jail inmates.
One clog caused three Main Street businesses to be flooded.
When city workers cleared the clog last year, they found food and drink containers and cloth material that looked like it could have been old jail jumpsuits.
The county's portion of the project has been budgeted in 2018-19 at $125,000, although Roberts noted that may change after an engineer is hired and is able to take a closer look the project.
Some smaller projects were recommended for 2018-19 as well
Roberts presented the Buildings Committee other new expenses recommended for the 2018-19 budget that are also mandated, including:
* Replacement of the controller on the courthouse annex elevator, which is now 20 years old. That elevator brings both the courthouse and the courthouse annex into Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and is expected to cost around $30,000.
* Upgrades and license renewals for communication equipment, which is estimated at $20,000.
* Bulletproof seating area for the clerk of courts in all five county courtrooms, as mandated by the state, for approximately $25,000.
Many of the remaining project on the county buildings wish list have been delayed since 2015-16, when the county's budget crisis was becoming apparent to the commission and most new spending was frozen.
Projects that will remain shelved in 2018-19
Some of those proposed projects omitted again from the 2018-19 fiscal year budget include:
* Paving and striping the Justice Center parking lot for an estimated $236,756.
* Security fences with an electronic gate for judges and staff at the Justice Center for $25,200.
* Implementing the county buildings security plan for the courthouse annex and county mayor's office for approximately $155,000.
* New doors and ADA access at H.B. Stamps Library and Rogersville Senior Center for around $28,000.
* Re-roofing the Hawkins County Airport terminal and re-plumbing the fuel farm for $25,000.
* Upgrading county website and internal email host for $6,500.
* Relocating the county communications system's central nervous system from the courthouse to the county mayor's office, where a generator is located and could keep communications up during emergencies involving power outages for approximately $51,000.
"We need to study that list and put a long-range plan in place of what we're going to try to do out of each budget year," said committee member Stancy Vaughan. "If we don't do that, I feel like we're going to keep digging that hole and get so far behind we're not going to be able to get caught up with these buildings."