BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County Detention Center's roof reportedly needs immediate attention, but freezing temperatures will delay work until the warmer days of spring.
In the meantime, the County Commission agreed informally on Thursday to delay for at least a month any vote concerning how much to spend on the leaking, nearly 30-year-old roof until bids can be let for repairs to the entire roof.
The issue first appeared this month before the County Budget & Finance Committee, where Mayor Alan Broyles cautioned that the leaking roof is significant enough to cause structural damage and has become a "major problem."
Committee members declined to approve the $85,000 proposal to patch the approximately one-third section of the building that is leaking, deciding instead to discuss the matter with the full commission.
This postponement allowed time for the low bidder to return to survey the full roof and give a rough estimate on a full roof replacement and sealing of the concrete recreational area that sits atop some of the leaking pods.
In addition, the delay was to allow the commission to debate whether taxpayers' dollars should be spent to maintain the building, in light of recent discussions about the possibility of building a new jail.
That possibility has been under discussion as a result of the current building's crowded conditions and its subsequent decertification by the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI).
However, since the recent rains, County Sheriff Steve Burns said during a GOP caucus meeting held just prior to the commission meeting Tuesday evening that water is now running down walls in the jail and into bunks and has become a problem needing "immediate attention."
Architect Dave Wright agreed, noting the age of the roof and the contractor's belief that the entire roof will soon be in need of replacement.
In addition, Wright indicated that the county would be able to save what he believes could be a substantial sum by completing the project all at once rather than in two parts.
Among the expressed concerns, however, is that the county's Capital Projects Fund has dwindled to only $63,000 -- less than half the potential price of fixing the full roof.
Another $10,000 from that same fund was approved on Tuesday for the Sheriff's Department's workhouse, in which low-security inmates are held.
While the detention center was decertified during last year's inspections, Sheriff Burns agreed to enclose the workhouse's outdoor recreation area for year-round use, in order to maintain the certification at that location.
The commission originally approved $120,000 for the work, Burns said Tuesday, but the project had grown because of additional security needs such as cameras and interior fencing.
Until now, the sheriff said he had absorbed an additional $60,000 for the project out of his remaining funds from 2011-2012 and out of his equipment line items -- up to the final $10,000 he said he now needs.
Commissioner Jan Kiker brought up a proposal that was made during caucus just prior to the sheriff's arrival and his effort to justify his request.
That proposal had pointed to another resolution's being considered on Tuesday in which the sheriff had requested to budget $52,500 from a contract renewal bonus into his equipment line items.
While the sheriff argued that these funds are now needed in these various areas because of the additional charges paid out for the workhouse, Kiker maintained the proposal that the $10,000 request should come from this bonus, rather than from the Capital Projects Fund.
In the end, the commission gave its approval both for the full $52,500 to go into the equipment line items and for the $10,000 to come out of the Capital Projects Fund, as requested.
Commissioners Robin Quillen, David Crum and Jan Kiker voted against both resolutions.
The commission also approved the following resolutions:
* budgeting the 2013 Appalachian High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Grant of $15,000, to be used toward covering the cost of the Sheriff's Department's overtime hours;
* budgeting $9,365 in carryover funds from the 2012 Appalachian High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Grant, to be used toward covering the cost of the Sheriff's Department's overtime hours;
* budgeting a $13,129 Edward Burn Memorial Justice Grant toward the Sheriff's Department's law enforcement equipment;
* budgeting $1,485 in payments for handgun background checks, to be used toward the cost of the Sheriff's Department's law enforcement equipment;
* budgeting a $100 donation from the Greeneville Woman's Club to the Sheriff's Department, to be used toward covering the cost of educational programs;
* budgeting $87 from the sale of recyclable materials to be used toward covering the cost of law enforcement equipment; and,
* accepting a buyout agreement for Lakeway Recycling & Sanitation by Waste Industries USA, under which the county's current contract will be honored.
The commission also heard from Judith Sexton, a county citizen, concerning what she described as the misuse of funds by the Greene County School System and Greene County Highway Department.