Commissioners approve component unit contracts, capital project list

The Sweetwater County Board of County Commissioners is making adjustments after adopting the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget for the county, including making changes to contracts with component units and approving the Capital Projects List for Core County and Component Units.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners approved contracts with the Sweetwater Events Complex, Southwest Counseling, the Sweetwater County Library System, and the Sweetwater County Historical Museum. The contracts had to be adjusted after the commissioners changed the way component units will be funded due to considerations from Senate File 60.

The contracts detail the full amount the county will appropriate for each component unit, which “shall satisfy all statutory requirements and the total number of mills dedicated to” each component unit “with no amounts owing.” The total amounts will be distributed through monthly payments.

The Events Complex will receive $2,659,890, Southwest Counseling will receive $650,488, the library system will receive $3,357,679, and the museum will receive $391,932.

The commissioners also discussed a change to the contract for the Events Complex. It was suggested the monthly payments be adjusted so a larger sum of money could be paid up front to help with the busy summer season. With this change, the Events Complex will receive almost $665,000 for July, with the monthly payments for the rest of the year being around $181,000.

When it comes to capital projects for the county, the commissioners also approved the FY 2024 Capital Projects List for Core County and Component Units, which was presented by County Grants Manager Krisena Marchal on behalf of the county’s capital committee.

“Three years ago, a capital committee was formed to fiscally improve, and make more transparent, the budgeting process for capital expenses,” Marchal explained. “Although the annual Budget Resolution allocates an appropriation for capital projects, approval of a specific capital list is an important part of the committee’s practices for transparency.”

The members of the capital committee include Marchal as the grants manager as well as a county commissioner, the sheriff or a sheriff’s office representative, the public works director, the IT director, the purchasing director and the accounting manager.

The county’s capital budget for FY 2024 totals $9,068,928. Over $8 million of that total will go toward the core county expenses including debt service, and almost $930,000 will go toward the component units.

There is also a $530,000 cash carryover from FY 2023.

The capital committee request grants permission to transfer funding between projects on the FY 2024 Capital Projects List contingent upon approval from the members of the capital committee, and requires any new projects to be authorized by the board of county commissioners.

For the component units’ capital projects, the new system will involve reimbursement of capital project expenditures through county vouchers instead of advance distribution of funding.

During the discussion of the Events Complex contract, Kandi Pendleton, the Events Complex executive director, asked about the process of having to be reimbursed for capital expenses, with concerns that the Events Complex having to initially cover expenses with their own funds could create cash flow problems. Commissioner Island Richards explained that with the ways the county is changing how it funds component units, one concern was putting money into capital expenditures and not having all the money be used, which is why a reimbursement system was chosen.

“We’re obviously just trying to account for the taxpayers’ dollars and making sure that it’s going to what it’s intended to, which we have full faith that’s what you guys will do,” Chairman Keaton West said.

County Treasurer Mark Cowan also pointed out that the new method is still a more efficient system than in the past since projects can be funded almost immediately instead of having to wait for capital from the mill levy to come in. The commissioners also confirmed that the reimbursement process is relatively quick since vouchers can be approved and authorized to be repaid every week.

“I think everyone is reasonable and wants to see the component units succeed in their projects,” Marchal said, adding “this is the same process that outside agencies are currently using” and reaffirming that vouchers are paid out by the end of the week, so “it is an efficient process.”


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