“One of the things that keeps me up at night is that I will get a call from a judge saying there is no heat or air in the courthouse,” County Administrator Eric Young said as he laid out the case for replacing the HVAC at the county courthouse.
The HVAC, updating the county’s information technology department, a new home for Bluefield’s emergency services and work on the leachate line, liquid that seeps from the landfill, are among big ticket items in the 2020 county budget. Those and other issues are part of the $3.8 million line of credit the county voted to seek proposals on during the June 4 Board of Supervisors meeting.
A 2006 study by Wiley-Wilson and Associates, an engineering firm from Abingdon showed the HVAC needed to be replaced and the cost at that time was $900,000. The estimated cost now stands at $1.6 million.
The county took over a volunteer rescue squad in Bluefield and turned it into a paid department. After discovering the building is not safe for use, employees have been sharing space with the Bluefield fire department. The budget has nearly $500,000 for the new building and new equipment for the department.
The leachate line and the IT upgrades are not in the bond issue, but still are a big part of the budget. The budget also has $218,000 for hiring a business recruiter and a firm to assess the assets and put together a marketing package. The county is seeking grant funding for that.
Young and Interim County Engineer Ken Dunford said the licensure for software to operate servers and for many of the work stations have expired, and they will cease to function if the licenses are not renewed. They said there is also a need for better antivirus software for the county’s servers.
The county faced email problems in recent weeks. Young attributes the issues to the software, which is slated for $200,000 in the 2020 budget.
The Public Service Authority constructed a sewer line from the landfill to the Tazewell sewer plant a few years ago with the idea of piping the leachate to the Tazewell sewer plant.
The system is not working properly and Dunford, as well as engineers from Thompson & Litton, have issued varying cost estimates on the project. Supervisors appropriated up to $100,000 for the repairs in May — $45,000 for a monitoring well with the remainder carrying over to the new budget to clean out the tank.
Santek, the company operating the landfill, has suggested using a removable tarp to keep debris from the tank rather than putting a roof on it.
The board also approved transferring $50,000 into the landfill fund for next year and is working to get a final figure for school funding in place before the June 27 meeting to vote on the $51,625,400 proposed 2020 budget.
Young also told the board the county had to improve its cash on hand. The county’s reserves have declined from $9 million a few years ago to $1 million in 2019.
A study by Davenport and Associates revealed the county had about a third of what it needed to have in reserves and recommended raising the amount to $5 million. The study also showed found that new businesses looked at the cash on hand as a factor in determining a location.