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County still considering options for $1M grant
Cotten its official1 original
Justin Cotten

Warren County government is continuing discussions on how best to spend $620,000 of $1 million allocated to it from the state. 

A joint meeting of the county’s Budget and Finance Committee and Building and Grounds Committee convened Thursday with a correction. Warren County actually received slightly more than $1 million in grant monies from Gov. Bill Lee, who set aside $200 million for city and county governments.

“The $620,000 was just the amount of the budget amendment,” said Finance Department director Justin Cotten.

Commissioner Tommy Savage asked why the total amount was not presented when Budget and Finance members initially met to consider the list of allocation requests for $620,000.

“We were only appropriating the amount equal to the expenses we expected to incur so the remainder would sit unappropriated,” said Cotten.

If commissioners approve expenditures of $620,000, remaining will be $404,529 in grant money that can be spent on capital improvements.

Under consideration last week by Budget and Finance was an allocation request presented by County Executive Jimmy Haley after speaking with elected officials and department directors. 

Requested was the following:

Warren County Memorial Airport, $120,000 for a maintenance shed

Warren County Sanitation Department, $110,000 for a storage shed

Warren County Sheriff’s Department, $35,000 to purchase body cameras

Also requested was $355,000 for courthouse elevator repair, installation of a drive-thru tube at the Trustee’s Office, administrative office parking lot paving, installation of wi-fi at the administrative building and courthouse, security upgrades at the administrative building and courthouse, and an awning at the main entrance of the courthouse.

Haley presented a revised list Thursday with additional items and ranked the items based on importance. Topping the list: elevator, wi-fi, security upgrades, program space at jail, Trustee Office drive-thru, body cams for deputies and UV light systems for Warren County EMS. 

Lowest on the list: airport request, sanitation request, awning at courthouse, paving and payment for kiosk for administrative building. 

The joint meeting, which exceeded 1.5 hours, ended with initial approval given to allocations of $160,000 for the courthouse elevator replacement, $16,000 for wi-fi at Warren County Administrative Offices and courthouse (estimate), $40,000 for installation of a drive-thru tube at the Trustee’s Office (estimate), $35,000 for sheriff’s office body cameras, and $74,000 for UV lights for all ambulances and five new ventilators for EMS. A total allocation of $325,000.

Commissioner Scott Rubley said a second joint meeting of the committees will be arranged to continue deliberations on how best to spend the $1 million in state funds. 

“Just because your request wasn’t approved tonight, doesn’t mean it won’t be,” Rubley said to the audience which included several department directors, elected officials and emergency personnel. 

Committee-approved expenditures will be sent to the full Warren County Commission for consideration during its October session.