County Wants to Proceed on Building Projects
Agreement came quickly among the Moore County commissioners Monday on the idea of using excess fund balance to help pay building a new jail and a county government office buildings.
The state Local Government Commission mandates counties and municipalities to maintain a fund balance of at least 8 percent to ensure capability of meeting monthly financial needs. In recent years, Moore County has been able to maintain a much larger fund balance, which at one time was almost 24 percent of the total annual operating budget.
Commissioner Tim Lea proposed that the county maintain a fund balance of 15 percent, with funds in excess of that to be available for appropriation for one-time capital expenditures, economic development-related expenditures and as a capital reserve fund.
Commissioner Larry Caddell said the county has a golden opportunity now to move ahead with the building program while the economy is in a slump, and the county can find funds to help pay for construction. He said county managers and finance officers must under-estimate expected revenues and over-estimate expenses yearly when they prepare budgets.
Caddell said this wise planning by County Manager Cary McSwain and Financial Services Director Lisa Hughes is the reason that Moore County is in relatively good financial shape.
Fellow commissioners expr-essed agreement with Lea's opinion that this is a good time to proceed with construction of building projects the county has needed for a number of years. The county could use some of the excess fund balance to pay for the new buildings.
"We're at the magic window," said Lea.
He was referring to the current economic slowdown that has left many construction firms clamoring for jobs and the expectation that bids might be more competitive and thus come in lower than would have been the case a year ago.
Earlier in the meeting, the board voted unanimously to delay action on architects' contracts for design of a jail expansion project and a county government office building.
However, the delay was unrelated to the sharp economic downturn -- the contracts simply were not ready for approval.
McSwain told the board that negotiations are still under way with the LS3P Boney and Ware-Bonsall firms to design the government office complex and the combination detention center and public safety facility.
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