BY SARAH GREGORY
The Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen will continue discussions about capital projects to undertake during the upcoming fiscal year, but they gave the go-ahead Tuesday to one of the items on the capital budget list -- purchase of a new fire engine.
Discussion of the capital budget was on the agenda for Tuesday's regular meeting.
City Administrator Todd Smith and board members briefly discussed a few projects in addition to the fire engine purchase -- upgrades for Fire Station #2, conversion of EastView Pool to a splash pad, and roof replacement at the Community Center used by the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County.
FIRE ENGINE PURCHASE
Because the bid for the fire engine apparatus was set to expire on May 11, aldermen made the decision to move forward with its purchase.
Fire Chief Mark Foulks told aldermen that there is a considerable discount -- more than $21,000 -- for paying for the truck in full within 60 days of purchase.
That discount would bring the cost of the truck from $750,000 to $728,906.
"If we're going to buy the fire truck, let's pay for it," Alderman Darrell Bryan said, suggesting money from the Town's fund balance be used for the purchase as opposed to borrowing funds and adding to the Town's debt service.
Bryan made the motion with a second by Alderman Sarah E.T. Webster to purchase and pay for the fire engine using the fund balance.
Foulks said the fire engine apparatus that is being replaced can likely be sold, with its revenue going back into the fund balance. However, he did not have an estimate on how much the truck might bring.
FUNDING THE PROJECTS
The three other items on the capital project shortlist -- Fire State #2 upgrades, EastView Pool splash pad, and Community Center roof -- were briefly discussed.
Aldermen indicated that they would like to discuss financial options with the Town's consultants from the Stephens Inc. Group before moving forward.
Smith said that the board does have a number of options to consider as far as funding the estimated $1.5 million in capital projects.
* taking money from the almost $6.7 million available in the fund balance, leaving just over $5 million in that fund;
* borrowing the full amount for the projects on a 10-year loan;
* borrowing 75 percent on a 10-year loan and paying 25 percent up-front from the fund balance; or,
* borrowing 50 percent on a 10-year loan and paying 50 percent up-front from the fund balance.
Smith noted that other options also likely exist as well.
He cautioned, however, that adding to the Town's debt may not be the best choice, as the amount Greeneville will have to pay on its debt service will dramatically increase in 2016.
"2016 is really something that should be on the front of our mind. Our debt service does go up quite extensively," he said, adding that the Town should "be cautious of how much we do borrow."
Smith said he would "urge us to consider, at the minimum, splitting the cost 50/50 -- borrowing 50 percent and taking 50 percent out of fund balance."
However, Smith noted, the Stephens Group consultants he spoke with about funding the projects earlier said that any of the options are viable and they are "comfortable" with the Town's selecting any of the financing options.
Aldermen briefly discussed the potential upgrade to Fire Station #2, at the Asheville Highway and Vann Road intersection.
Formal plans for the renovation have not yet been drawn up, but Foulks said contractors hired to look at the facility estimated the cost to renovate at approximately $500,000.
The facility has crumbling concrete floors that are at an increased risk of failure due to the weight of the fire engines, and firefighters' living space in that station is very small.
Renovation of that fire station would move the fire engines to the lower level and convert the upstairs area into living space for firefighters working 24-hour shifts.
The final item on the capital projects list discussed Tuesday was roof replacement at the Community Center, which is currently being used by the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County.
"There are constant leaks there," Smith said of the facility, which has a roof approximately 40 years old -- well beyond the lifespan of a normal roof.
Cost estimates for that project, which aldermen did not discuss at length, were listed as $40,000.
Aldermen will continue consideration of the capital projects at future meetings.