Bryan County Commissioners met on Monday, Aug. 14 to discuss the ongoing county jail project and the county budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
During this meeting, commissioners discussed purchasing kitchen equipment for the new jail from a closing restaurant in McAlester. The used items are like new according to County Commissioner Monty Montgomery who personally went to see the items.
In order to obtain the kitchen equipment, a purchase must be made before Sept. 1 when the restaurant owner must vacate the building. This raised issues with the purchase due to a bid process that the commissioners must go through to purchase items exceeding $10,000.
Commissioner Montgomery explained that in order to purchase items over the price of $10,000 the board must, by law, offer a public bid to allow other sellers to offer their equipment and pricing options.
The restaurant owner has been notified to ask if she would sell the equipment for less than $10,000. No response had been given to the board as of 9 a.m. on Monday when the meeting was held.
Another option considered was buying each piece of equipment separately and only purchasing the necessary items. In doing this, no purchase would require a bid and no purchase would be made except what was absolutely necessary.
The commissioners agreed to seek counsel from the District Attorney in order to determine a course of action. The board will ask if, given the time restraints on the offer, the bid process can be waived or inquire on the legality of buying each item separately from the same owner.
Commissioners spent the majority of the meeting discussing the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, making few changes. The expected budget is set at $3,996,231.85 for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
One change made was a $125 a month pay raise to all county employees excluding elected officials, suggested by Montgomery. As well as a $150 a month pay raise for jail staff.
Montgomery suggested the raises, explaining that no pay raises were given during to last fiscal year to guarantee money for beginning the building of the new county jail.
Montgomery also suggested the board plan for a subsequent budget in approximately January 2013 due to changes in the jail system. When the county condenses its two current jails into one new jail, the financial needs are predicted to decrease as well.
The board decided not to take money from the budget for the jail at this time because the current sheriff is only allotted half of the budget for his remaining time in office.
During his time the money will still be needed to fund two jails. The subsequent budget in January will decrease the jail’s budget to meet the decreased needs of one jail.
Commissioners decided to delay plans for remodeling the courthouse until the new county jail is near completion. Montgomery said that because so much taxpayer money has been invested in the jail project the board would like to see it finished before remodeling the courthouse.
Commissioners did tell Judge Mark Campbell that the board would aid in the remodeling after the jail is complete.
Other issues discussed included an eight year plan to build nine bridges in the county and repair county roads in all three county districts.
One project has been delayed after an environmental study found the project to affect an endangered beetle. The American Burying Beetles found during the study must be relocated to safety before a highway project on Sawmill Road can begin.