The county sheriff is seeking the purchase of two new vehicles for the office’s fleet, but whether that can happen depends on the budget and whether a levy to support children in foster care passes on Nov. 8, according to Highland County Commissioners on Wednesday at the board’s regular meeting.
Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera said that while last year he thought the sheriff’s office would be “vehicles ahead” this year, that has changed. Out of the five “spare vehicles,” four have broken down, he said, and the remaining vehicle is approaching the 300,000 mile mark.
Barrera presented commissioners with quotes on two different vehicles: $30, 275 for a new Dodge truck, and $31,000 for a new Ford Expedition Interceptor.
The sheriff was likely aware of “cuts possibly coming our way,” commission board president Shane Wilkin said. “Where we sit right now is we are probably just going to have to wait.”
He said that until the county office budgets, which were due last week, could be reviewed and until it was known if a levy for Children Services passes in November, the county board didn’t know if the purchase of the vehicles would be possible.
As previously reported, in July commissioners voted unanimously to place a new 1.9-mill property tax levy on the November ballot to support Children Services. If passed, the levy would be for five years and would cost the owner of a $100,000 property $59.85 a year. The levy is needed, the commissioners and other elected officials said previously, because an extra $1 million was needed above what was appropriated for Children Services last year and it looks like it’s going to be about the same again this year.
The county’s current levy brings in about $520,000 annually, and according to Wilkin previously, was designed to handle about 60 children fostered in Highland County.
The number of foster children in care in recent years has been more than double the amount the original levy was designed to support. And without enough foster homes in Highland County, a lot of those children must be placed outside the county in network foster homes and in residential facilities, which costs the county more money than being able to keep the children local.
Commissioner Tom Horst said he sympathized with Barrera on the need for vehicles because he had been there himself when he was sheriff.
“The main thing is … a lot of it comes down to the passage of the Children Services levy,” Horst said, as that will impact the county’s budget.
On another matter, commissioners proclaimed Oct. 23-31 Red Ribbon Week in Highland County. Representatives from FRS Counseling, the Highland County Health Department, the sheriff’s office, and the Paint Valley ADAMH Board were on hand for the proclamation.
According to Hannah Allard, a prevention specialist with FRS Counseling, the week is about raising awareness about drug abuse and misuse. She said this year’s theme is “YOLO.” She said it means “you only live once,” adding “so make good choices.”
Allard said all the schools in Highland County are participating, and each day of Red Ribbon Week will be recognized with different dress-up themes at the schools. Schools are also engaging in a number of different activities with students to recognize the week, she said. For more information on National Red Ribbon Week, go to redribbon.org.
In other business, four bids were received for a sidewalk project along part of Carl Smith/Hobart Drive and Careytown Road toward Harry Sauner Road. Those bids are: Dance Excavating, $269,378; Fillmore Construction, $258,894; Foill Inc., $454,000; and Belgray, $277,322.
The bid packages will be reviewed by Highland County Engineer Dean Otworth prior to commissioners awarding a contract.
The Highland County Board of Commissioners meets each Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. on the second floor of the county administration building, 119 Governor Foraker Pl., Hillsboro. The meetings are open to the public.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.