Jones County Board of Commissioners considered some big ideas and citizen and employee requests when discussing the county’s 2022 budget.
Unlike previous years when board members were trying to decide what to cut before finalizing the budget, this year they have funds enough to grant some of the requests of department heads.
The Sept. 7 meeting was called to order by Board Chairman Chris Weidner, and County Administrator Jason Rizner updated the members. Rizner said conservatively speaking they had $2 million to work with.
At a previous daylong work session with department heads, commissioners listened to a list of wants and needs that totaled $1,150,695. Following the presentations, the board members each voted on their priorities. Rizner and CFO LaVita Crutchfield compiled that list for Tuesday’s work session.
Ten of the items on the list were considered a priority for all five commissioners. Those items totaled $604,964 and came from building maintenance, code enforcement, EMA, human resources, parks and recreation, planning and zoning, sheriff’s office and water and sewer.
The board was in agreement to include those items, and the discussion went to what else?
Weidner said he received several calls about Pickle Ball courts, and he said he had no problem adding that item. The chairman said he also felt replacing older, high mileage vehicles should be a priority because of safety concerns.
Commissioner John Wood agreed that safety needed to be a priority, and Weidner suggested having the vehicles evaluated by a certified shop to determine which ones needed to be replaced.
Rizner threw out the idea of paving the parking lot at the Morris Bank Recreational Complex that would have a $1 million price tag.
“It just seems incomplete,” he said.
The administrator also suggested paving the drive to the Mattie Wells Gym and possibly that parking area.
Commissioner Daylon Martin said he would struggle with spending $1 million on a parking lot.
“What else do we need for $1 million,” he said.
Martin said the county has outgrown the Government Center Building, and there was also the courthouse renovation to consider.
Commissioner Sam Kitchens said that was a question of the use of space.
“That has too many moving parts. We need to step back. $1 million is not going to touch that,” he said. “We need to spend the money the right way. $1 million would touch a lot of roads.”
Kitchens said the funds the county has for projects is not because taxes have been raised. He said it is because revenues have increased.
“We have seen the benefit of cutting out waste and doing things the right way. We also need to give credit to the tax assessors’ office,” he said.
Weidner suggested adding the requests that received votes from three commissioners up.
Martin asked about outside basketball courts at the Mattie Wells Gym and an assistant for the IT department.
Parks and Recreation Director Matt Goins said the equipment at the county’s playgrounds needed to be upgraded.
With the board’s direction, Rizner and CFO LaVita Crutchfield were tasked with updating the budget, which wa s scheduled be adopted at a called meeting Sept. 9.