Robbins Board OK's Budget, Fire Station Contract
In one of the shortest meetings in years, Robbins commissioners held a public hearing on the town’s new budget, passed it, created a capital reserve fund, and approved a contract for construction of the town’s first fire station.
The special called session was set to meet state deadlines for the coming fiscal year that begins July 1. The meeting lasted 20 minutes.
Nobody showed up to speak to the board about the budget during the hearing. Once Mayor Lonnie English closed the hearing, he asked for a motion on the fire station contract. Commissioner Kevin Stewart moved approval of the contract between Robbins and Bradley Construction.
Most of the $1,857,682 cost of the new station is covered by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant of $367,050 and loan of $969,650. The town moved $514,846 from other funds to make up the total.
Costs included buying the land across from Town Hall, engineering, environmental analysis, design and contract administration. A contingency fund of $58,300 was set aside.
In a related action, the board established a Fire Capital Reserve Fund. Funds from Fire District tax revenues received from Moore County for the Elise Fire District not used for operating and other expenses will go into that reserve.
Its use is restricted to major items of Fire Department equipment, and for construction and restoration of the department’s buildings and facilities.
Commissioner Terrie Holt asked about a difference between the budgeted fire station amount and a lower figure in the Bradley contract. The bid was $1.4 million, but the figure in the budget is $1.8 million.
“Some of it is money that’s already been spent,” said Finance Officer Chelsea Thomas. “We purchased land, which was $77,000. So what it is, is that total number is from what we purchased — already spent — what’s already spent to what’s going to be spent.”
The commissioners went over the contract and budget documents.
“That includes your land purchase fees, your engineering fees — all the other stuff we had to jump through hoops on,” Commissioner Rocky Davis said. “It’s already paid out.”
Fire Chief Jarius Garner showed areas where monies had already been spent in the fire station project so the board could satisfy itself that all the numbers matched.
“Yeah, the whole project should be right at $1.8 million,” Garner said. “That’s probably about right by the time you go from the very beginning of the project, just roughing it.”
Interim Town Manager Jeff Sheffield explained that the lower figure — from the contract — represents funds required for completion.
“The ($1.4 million) is what’s going to be needed,” he said. “(The auditor) wanted everything listed — from previous years — that is spent on this fire department. … By combining all the numbers from previous years, it is going to be easier to conduct an audit on this fire department.”
Robbins bought the property six years ago.
At the end of the discussion, English called for a vote. All but one board member approved Stewart’s motion.
“Impassive,” Holt said. “I’ll say ‘No.’ I just don’t understand it.”
In short order, board members — again on a motion from Stewart — approved without discussion the new budget for fiscal year 2012-2013.
Afterward, Stewart said he had special thanks for the other Town Board members, town employees and the town’s interim manager for working hard on this budget.
“This year, we cut the tax rate and lowered garbage fees while giving our employees a cost-of-living raise,” Stewart said. “We made repairs to the waste- water treatment plant. We will be building a new fire station and still meeting our obligations on debt service.”
He had particular praise for Sheffield, the town’s police chief, who has been filling the gap as town manager following the departure of George Hayfield.
“Jeff Sheffield has been phenomenal with his double duty as police chief and interim manager,” Stewart said. “The town residents will also enjoy cheaper fire insurance rates because of the good job the Fire Department did with the ISO insurance rating. Our next challenges are to lock in the HUBzone status to attract a major industry to Robbins and continue negotiations with the county on water.”
Contact John Chappell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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