EMA seeks usage for surplus

Published 9:18 pm Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What to do with $13,000 in surplus grant funds?

That’s the dilemma facing the Pike County Emergency Management Agency as the fiscal year draws to a close.

Director Jeanna Barnes told Pike County Commissioners on Monday she expects to have approximately $13,000 in state Emergency Management Performance Grant funds left at the end of the month, and if those funds are not spent the state will reclaim them, meaning the county will lose the funding. “And, they’re likely to cut our funding next year, if we don’t spend it this year,” she said.

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The grant funds must be matched by local spending, so Barnes said she has considered several different options for spending the surplus. One option, which she recommended to the board, involves the purchase of a new vehicle for the EMA.

“I’m trying to spend the money to get a vehicle and to pass our vehicle onto the road department, which needs a vehicle,” Barnes said Tuesday.

Barnes said she believes the EMA could secure an SUV type vehicle for approximately $27,000 to $30,000, meaning the net cost to the county would be only $14,000 to $17,000. The EMA’s current vehicle, a 2006 Ford F150 truck, could then be transferred to the road department. The vehicle is used by Barnes for transportation and by the EMA as an emergency response vehicle.

County Administrator Harry Sanders said during Monday’s commission meeting that auditors have said the commission has the authority to make the transfer of the vehicle, if it chooses to do so. “Basically, it’s up to the commission: whatever you want to do with that truck,” he said.

Commissioners, however, did not commit on Monday to the vehicle purchase, opting instead to ask Barnes to seek prices on building repairs and upgrades to the EMA facility on Oak Street. Those repairs would include the addition of fencing around the building, to protect the equipment stored at the center, and rewiring of the building. Barnes had told commission members that recent repairs to the building did not include wiring upgrades and because of that, computer equipment is at risk.

“We basically unplug everything at night that we don’t want to risk being damaged,” she said.

Barnes said on Tuesday she plans to seek the prices quotes as directed by commissioners, but she is concerned about the timeline ahead. The commission’s next regular meeting is Sept. 27, “and we have to spend this money by the end of September or else we’ll lose it,” she said.