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COUNTY SCRUTINIZES EMERGENCY BUDGET

(The following is part three in a series that looks at the budget situations of six of Curry Countys 21 departments.)

GOLD BEACH The Curry County Commissioners finished two days of budget meetings with their department heads last week by focusing on two small, but important, departments.

Emergency Services

County Commissioner Schafer noticed that Emergency Services Coordinator Mike Murphy listed $609,000 in his budget as revenue for replacement of the countys decaying communications towers and equipment.

Schafer said the county does not know where that money is coming from, or if the project can be done.

Commissioner La Bont said the county needs to create a line item for the project to apply for grants. She said if the county doesnt get the grants, it wont spend the money.

County Accounting Manager Geoff Buchheim said the problem was the county doesnt even know where the grants would come from yet.

He said he would look into creating a capital projects fund to put it in.

The commissioners had instructed department heads to create A budgets similar to last years, and B budgets with other needed items. Schafer asked Murphy what he had put in his B budget.

He said that budget contained about $50,000 more for increased training and education, including meals and lodging, and a county vehicle. He said all categories in his B budget received a bit more money.

Murphy said what he is really pushing for is the new towers, $10,000 to finish off the emergency operations center, and $27,500 to install a generator that was donated.

He said all are necessary to mount any sort of credible response in a real emergency. Schafer said the towers are used by emergency services, 911, and the sheriffs office.

She said Murphy was asking for another $37,500 from the general fund, in addition to the tower capital project.

Can we afford that? said La Bont. We need to have an emergency operations center and generator in the courthouse annex.

Murphy said, Were dead without your computers. Its a critical piece. Basically, the heart of county government is in this building.

As for the courthouse itself, Murphy said the sheriffs generator may have enough capacity to run the county clerk or assessors office too.

La Bont said she would look for grants to help with the cost. Schafer said it needs to be in the budget to give spending authority if the grants come through.

Veterans Services

Schafer said the budget was a bit lower this year, because part of the salary of Veterans Services Officer Mike McGuiness was paid out of the occupancy fund. In addition to his Veteran Services duties, McGuiness now also supervises the janitors. That portion of his pay comes out of the occupancy charges that the departments share.

La Bont praised McGuiness for the good job he did on his budget.

She also said the janitorial services are great now, and that the janitors have more pride in what they are doing.

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