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LCDA approves $14 million budget
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Today marks the start of the new fiscal year and the Liberty County Development Authority on Monday bumped up its spending plan for the coming year, after trimming some items that members said would be considered fat.
The board approved a $14 million operating budget. This year’s budget was for $13 million.
The OK came after members excised a few proposed line items, including $40,000 for art displays in the MidCoast Regional Airport and LCDA lobbies.
Member Al Williams was for a “bare bones budget,” and wanted to “forgo anything that’s not absolutely necessary.”
“Folks are losing homes… I don’t think this is the time to spend on a luxury,” Williams said.
“If anything appears to be luxury...maybe it’s better to take it out,” Brian Smith agreed.
Carmen Cole, administration and finance director, explained the authority could just keep it in and did not have to use the money.
“It distorts the budget. It starts to get a little bogus,” Williams said. “Leave it out on the front end talk about it next year.”
“The bigger you get the easier for that to get spent,” Smith added.
Spending was not the only item cut. There was also a budgeted two percent hike in property tax revenue the authority decided to reduce.
“I’m conservative by nature…and we might get a pleasant surprise in the coming year, but let’s leave it where we are,” Smith said.
LCDA approved $2,000 a month for a financial consultant to help with the authority’s $33 million debt.
“We want to be able to pay down the debt and they think they have some ways where we can restructure,” Cole said.
She assured the board the budget “wasn’t far-reaching,” and the push behind it was to stay competitive.
“I like all the other stuff. You have to market,” Williams said.
With 1,500 acres in Tradeport East still to be sold, LCDA CEO Ron Tolley explained the importance of putting LCDA’s best foot forward to prospects.
It is a hard sell when the potential buyers are jostled to an uncleared site.
“They have to go where they know it’s going to be ready,” Tolley said.
Contracts for the proposed east-end sewage plant were suspended until the state Environmental Protection Division completes its study.
“Based on the current status of the study … CH2M Hill has request that we suspend work on that project pending the outcome of that study,” Cole said.
It would cost $319,000 to suspend the contracts.
LCDA is going to build the $150,000 operations building and get a certificate of occupancy.
Cole explained some of the contracts had submittals at varying rates and the company has to go back to renegotiate.
The issue now is to secure materials already delivered.
Cole said there has ready been security issues on Tradeport East where a truck clearly tried running through a chain-link fence.
Member Jim Thomas said it would be cheaper to keep all the steel and find ways to secure it.
“It doesn’t deter vandalism, but makes it harder,” Thomas said.
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