(02/15/2006)
A reflection of how local residents must be struggling to pay their home heating bill, came to roost on the shoulder of the Calhoun Commission.

County Clerk Richard Kirby told commissioners that the natural gas heating bill for the courthouse in December reached an all-time high at $6,500.

The bill covers both the main building and the jail annex.

The commission has been trying to get a grant to replace about 70 single-pane windows, all original windows from the 1940s, many in dis-repair.

The commission paid-off the regional jail bill, about $24,000, indicating the county is in the black and not facing a financial crisis like last year at this time.

Commission president Larry McCallister said the finances are subject to change quickly from month to month, but for now, he said "We're in pretty good shape."

Budget meetings have been scheduled for March, with the regular commission meeting on March 13.

Sheriff Carl Ballengee is requesting the county purchase a new computerized programing system to keep tabs of the county's tax receipts. Two providers made presentations to the commission, and a request for bids will be advertised. The cost of the program is estimated near $40,000.

Sheriff Ballengee is also asking the commission for additional funding to hire additional personnel. "We have been told by the State Tax Department, we need more help to keep up," he said.

The sheriff told commissioners that Chief Deputy Ron Bandy has returned to work after being on sick leave.

- A report on the new 911 Center indicates that inside work on fixtures and facilities has reached a threshold that would allow for the operation to be transfered from the current control center, awaiting the construction of a 180 foot radio tower. Most of the work has been done by volunteers.

- County Clerk Richard Kirby said he is moving forward to see that poll workers will be selected for the May election.

- Sheriff Ballengee, after investigation, presented a bill for eight sheep at $58 each that were killed, belonging to Paul McAllister. The commission paid the bill.

- The commission issued a request list for Budget Digest money, or other funding channels, for the next fiscal year. The top priority request is for $75,000 for ambulance and emergency medical equipment replacement, described as a critical need.

Other items on the request list, $45,000 for a computer programming system for the Sheriff's Department, $35,000 for camp site development for the county park, $40,000 to assist with the purchase of the Khoury office building for family court, and $5,000 for each of the county VFDs.

- The commission is working on a grant to get bleachers for Wayne Underwood Field, in addition to installing outside lighting for night-vision on the field and around the walking trail.

- There was brief discussion regarding the purchase of the Khoury Building for use by the Family Court, saying the commission is legally responsible for addressing the needs outlined by the Supreme Court.

- Diane Ludwig gave a report for the LKADC.

- The commission approved a Budget Digest allocation of $10,000, being used for work on the 911 Center.


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