Commissioners gathered last Thursday in special session, some with high hopes of undoing the County Mayor William Baird’s veto of funding for the proposed kitchen and laundry facility for the new jail.
But despite the best efforts of the project’s proponents the push to resurrect the project stalled in a 6-6 vote. The tie vote resulted from the absence of Commissioners Johnny Bruce, Forster Baird and Whit Goins.
Commissioner Rusty Orick kicked off the meeting with a quick motion to overturn Baird’s veto. Before allowing the discussion on the motion David Young, commission chairman, asked the mayor to present his argument for keeping his veto alive.
“I agree with the county commission that we need to do something about the kitchen and laundry,” Baird conceded as he began his remarks.
Despite his acknowledgement of the jail’s need for improved kitchen and laundry facilities, Baird remained firm in his opinion it would be more cost effective to explore the option of renovating the area of what is known as the old jail that currently houses the kitchen and laundry.
“There is stimulus money available for energy efficiency improvements,” Baird said pointing out the monies would be ideal to use for making improvements to the facility.
While Baird maintains the stimulus money cannot be used to construct a new facility, Jeff Marlow, finance director, suggested the potential for using the money to purchase upgraded kitchen equipment to put in a new facility. According to Marlow, kitchen equipment accounts for approximately $500,000 of the proposed new kitchen and laundry’s $1.3 million budget.
Orick took the opportunity to interject his concerns with the idea of renovating the old jail.
“I think we would be wasting money making any improvements to the old jail,” Orick said with conviction.
In an effort to move the meeting along, Commissioner Bobby White introduced the matter of the purchase of a grinder/auger for the jail’s sewer system that was also vetoed by the mayor.
“I would like for the grinder and the kitchen to be voted on separately,” White said.
“I’m not against the grinder, but it was in with the other motion and that is why I vetoed it,” Baird explained.
A motion made to overturn the veto of the grinder made by Commissioner Adrion Baird passed.
The mayor told commissioners following a feasibility study of the old jail, which he hoped would be complete within the month, he will begin applying for grants related to the stimulus money so the kitchen and laundry needs of the jail can be addressed as quickly as possible.