Commission approves budget

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Marshall County Commission approved several key measures at their monthly meeting last week.

The Marshall County Commission unanimously approved the county’s budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, beginning July 1.

The budget includes more than $16 million for general government and $45 million for Marshall County Schools, representing the two largest funds.

The county’s tax rate remains at $2.76 per $100 of assessed value for the second year. The tax rate dropped from more than $3 per $100 after the reappraisal process conducted last year.

Commissioners approved a motion allowing the county mayor to enter into a loan agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture to fund upgrades to the county water system.

The project will replace approximately seven miles of six inch water line with 12 inch pipe along Highway 31A from Farmington to north of the Duck River.

The cost of the project from Powell Lane to the end will be shared with the town of Chapel Hill.

The total project is estimated to cost $4.5 million, but the funds do come with the possibility of some percentage of loan forgiveness in the future.

During the meeting of the budget committee, Commissioner Tony Beyer, who also serves on the Public Utilities board, noted that water loss along the existing lines due to leaks was estimated at $18,000 per month anyway, which roughly covers payments on the new upgraded lines.

Roughly one mile of four inch line along Verona Caney Road will be upgraded to eight inch pipe as well.

The increased capacity will allow for more water to be pumped into the growing northern part of the county.

The commission also moved an additional $150,000 into the Highway Department’s capital projects budget. The money comes from the county’s adequate facilities tax, which the commission voted to increase this year. As part of the deal struck at the time, the first $300,000 raised by the tax on new construction in the county goes to the Board of Public Utilities and any amount over that is earmarked for road construction. The purpose of the tax is to offset the infrastructure costs of development. This is the first year that the fund has reached the $300,000 mark.

Commissioners approved an emergency appropriation request to replace the two existing sewer grinders at the Marshall County Jail.

The jail sewer system includes grinders to prevent items introduced into the system by inmates, such as blankets, shoes, or clothing, from clogging the system.

The motors in the two current grinders have been repeatedly burned out after foreign objects were introduced, leading to costly and hazardous repairs.

The Muffin Monster grinder, for which $59,400 was appropriated, is considered a replacement capable of replacing the current system and handling the issue.

The commission also voted to allow the Office of Emergency Management to seek reimbursement from responsible parties for costs incurred during hazardous waste incidents.

Parcels along Highway 99 and Highway 50 were approved for rezoning from agricultural to commercial. The building of a propane storage facility on Highway 50 raised questions about safety, which were dispelled by the project advocates.

Tribune reporter Erin Morris contributed to this story.