By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Monday, county commissioners approved Seward County’s capital improvement plan budget for the 2011 fiscal year.
Prior to a unanimous vote of the board, county administrator Mary Bloomer outlined the CIP starting with the county’s equipment reserve or general fund CIP.
“You had budgeted $396,652,” she said. “We have items requested at $363,593.”
Before moving on to the remainder of the items, Bloomer said department heads would need to stay frugal, watch expenses and not spend unless an item is needed.
“In the last couple of years, they have shown that they excel at that capacity,” she said.
Bloomer said the county does have five vehicles in its CIP, including a pool vehicle, one for emergency management and three patrol vehicles.
“Most likely, the one for emergency management will be purchased,” she said. “The one for our pool vehicle, which is the one we check out here for all departments, we plan to keep that maintained and not purchase it this year, but should something go belly up, we have the authority to spend those funds.”
Bloomer said two of the patrol vehicles will come out of the equipment reserve fund, and sheriff Bill McBryde has agreed to take the third out his department’s law enforcement drug fund.
“Just as a reminder, there is not a levy for this fund,” she said. “Traditionally, we have had transfers from the general fund. This year, we do not. At budget time, you will have to look at that because you will be dwindling down your equipment reserve fund for 2012.”
The county technology budget for 2011 is just under $240,000, and the items requested for CIP in that department were just less than $170,000.
“For the county technology budget, you approved that budget in whole,” Bloomer said. “As needs arise, we may change items on that list, but we do not go beyond the dollar amount that was approved.”
Bloomer said the county’s diversion funds do not come from levies. The 2011 budget is $77,000, and CIP funds requested were $51,337. Bloomer said this includes furniture items, including a countertop and sink for a break room.
“They were not in suitable shape to put into the facility,” she said.
Bloomer said county attorney Don Scott approved that expenditure, and it was added to the list of approvals for Monday’s commission meeting.
“The thing you will need to remember on that is while you have budget authority for that amount of $77,000, should Don go over that amount, so long as funds are in there, you can republish your budget at the end of the year with no penalties to encompass whatever additional funds he might spend,” Bloomer said.
Likewise, the Seward County Health Department does not rely on levied dollars, but rather on a health initiative sales tax, revenue and grants.
“If the funds are there, they are allowed to spend them,” Bloomer said.
Bloomer said, however, if funds are not in SCHD’s budget, an item is moved to the next year. The health department’s CIP request was $13,000.
The Seward County Landfill also does not rely on budgeted dollars, according to Bloomer.
“It’s an enterprise zone fund,” she said.
Bloomer said if revenue is not generated, landfill supervisor Mike Tabor will not take on projects. The total CIP request for the landfill was $1.42 million.
Unlike previous years, Bloomer said the county plans to use its noxious weed equipment fund, and there are equipment purchases of $19,000 planned for this year.
“We’ll use that instead of the equipment reserve fund for noxious weeds,” she said. “You have a balance of $42,155.56 in that fund.”
The next fund Bloomer discussed was for the county’s road and bridge department, which is typically divided into a special highway improvement fund and a special equipment fund. She said department head Tony Herrman has ample funds in his budget.
“He has $719,231 in the special highway improvement, and he has $875,749 in the road machinery fund,” Bloomer said. “His total request for the year is $367,000.”
The last item in the CIP was the county’s rural fire fund, which had a request of $8,500.