With a consensus approval, Finney County commissioners approved the county’s list of requested capital improvement projects expected to be placed on 2020 department budget requests in June.

All county departments and Finney County District Court submitted requests in February for the Capital Improvement Program spanning 2020 to 2024. With the list of many projects approved, department heads will now submit a budget request to the county with the projects in mind.

County Administrator Randy Administrator pointed to a handful of projects at the forefront of the list, including a $200,000 expansion to the county’s fiber-optic network and $1.56 million in overlay work on Lear Road. The County Clerk’s Office would also receive $90,000 in new equipment for elections.

The Finney County EMS and health departments also requested funds to prepare for a new, joint facility, which is meant to help both agencies find room to expand and save money on continued maintenance to their older, struggling buildings. Both departments each requested $1 million to be distributed over five years, or $200,000 each in 2020.

The full list of 2020 projects and payments totals $5,351,740, more than $2.5 million of which will be paid for with tax-levied property tax funds, or a $580,048 increase of 2016 property tax expenses. Other projects will be paid for with the county’s BRMP .25-cent sales tax and special highway, special equipment and road and bridge budgetary funds, among other department budgets.

Partially because cash balances are higher than projected, the county budget should “be in good standing: to handle the $580,048 increase in property tax funds," Partington said. Once budgets are presented in June, the commission can go over “how much is needed to be cut to keep the mill levy flat,” Partington told commissioners.

Projects include:

continued payments for a financial system,
electronic and security enhancement,
technology supplies,
vehicles and motor graders,
heating and air conditioning and IT upgrades,
courthouse renovations,
WiFi replacements and ambulances, 
new payments for a mobile field office for the appraiser’s office,
repairs to the Finney County EMS building,
computer monitors and scanners for several departments,
chairs and risers for the Finney County Fairgrounds, and 
upgrades to the 4-H building parking lot.

The 2020 list also covers several public works projects, including the master plan for a bike and pedestrian trail, improvements to Farmland Road, annual road and crack sealing projects and the construction of Community Bridge.

Some projects were held from the list, including the re-paving or repair of the Exhibition Building parking lot, a venture estimated to cost about $2.5 million over five years. The project was delayed so commissioners can continue to consider whether to upgrade the lot, repair it in patches, replace it with a gravel lot or pursue other options, Partington said. He said the county was considering other ways to fund the upgrades.

More than $1.1 million in 2020 projects are slated to be funded by the BRMP sales tax, a .25 sales tax that will expire in 2021 unless voters decide to extend it in November. If the tax is not renewed, the money it generates would likely run out by 2022, Partington said.

"That would take away some road projects, also special highway ... After the BRMP sales tax is gone, if it's not renewed, all the burden would be on special highway money," Partington said.


In other business:

Melissa Dougherty-O'Hara, planner at Neighborhood and Development Services, reviewed the 2019 Community Housing Assessment Team, or CHAT, study, which weighs the need for additional housing options in the county. Dougherty-O'Hara and commissioners discussed several sides of the housing demand issue, emphasizing the need for low-income and income-appropriate housing options, potential rules surrounding mobile homes and unused land outside city limits that can be used for residential areas.
The commission approved a motion to throw out bids for a vehicle for the Department of Public Works and re-advertise after researching options to minimize costs.
The commission approved a right-of-way mowing program that pays residents to mow grass on public land near their property.


Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.