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Road money thinned by beat system return

Some beat system realities came home Thursday as Lincoln Countysupervisors reviewed expected revenue and expenditure plans for thecounty’s road and bridge operations.

A Road and Bridge fund new year budget draft shows each districtwill have about $530,000 to spend for county road and bridgeoperations. Due to its size and road conditions, District 1 isexpected to have a little less at around $405,000.

Minus payments on over $1 million in equipment and personnelexpenses, the draft shows districts having between $230,00 and$285,000 remaining to pay for consumable supplies, such as fuel,asphalt and gravel, and contractual services, such as bridgeinstallation.

Supervisors lamented the low totals.

“This is where everybody learns to be conservative,” saidDistrict 1 Supervisor Cliff Givens.

With the first year of the beat system, Comptroller David Fieldssaid there will be unknowns and, because of the way taxes are paid,supervisors must be cautious to have some carryover funds to thefirst months of fiscal year 2002, which would be inOctober-December of 2001. If a beat runs out of money, workerscould have to be sent home, he cautioned.

“It’s going to be a different mind set than what you had underthe unit system because every penny is going to go back againstwhat you’ve got in your budgets,” Fields said.

The budget draft shows over $837,000 countywide for personnelservices, and a lease-purchase payment on planned equipment isalmost $400,000. Fields said those costs were subtracted, leavingthe amounts available for other areas in individual beats.

“The bottom line is you’ve got X amount of dollars to spend toget all that work done,” Fields said, indicating that maintenancefunds is an area impacted by the spending plans.

Supervisors disputed the notion that the new equipment purchaseswere the result of going back to the beat system.

“A lot of that stuff we were going to have to purchase anyway,”Givens said, citing age and condition of some county equipment.

Approximately $80,000 of the equipment payment is going to oldequipment debt, according to a budget worksheet.

In returning to the beat system, District 4 Supervisor W.D.”Doug” Moak said supervisors were doing the will of the peoplefollowing a vote last year on the issue. He agreed with Givens andother supervisors that the current equipment inventory was old andinsufficient to meet county road needs.

“We didn’t have enough equipment for the unit system,” Moaksaid. “It’s as simple as that.”