County may escrow funds annually to keep up with building maintenance

Published 4:12 pm Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Polk commissioners say they want to be proactive in maintaining county facilities by setting aside funds annually to keep up with a wide range of needs.

Commissioners first discussed the approach at their annual retreat and during a meeting last week they appointed a sub-committee to take an inventory of current and upcoming building needs.

&dquo;I feel like the county has been negligent of this in the past,&dquo; said county commissioner Warren Watson. &dquo;I want to ask the county manager to budget for next year under these guidelines.&dquo;

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The sub-committee consists of Watson and commissioner Ray Gasperson, both of whom have experience in the building industry. They will join county manager Ryan Whitson and maintenance director Mickey Edwards on the committee and report the inventory and funding recommendation to the county board during budget preparations for next fiscal year.

Edwards presented a list of needs to commissioners last week. He said heat is needed in the concession stand and bathrooms at the recreation park, as well as at the recreation department&39;s workshop.

Edwards said his department has had complaints from the public regarding the bathrooms and concessions, which have to be shut down when the temperature drops below 30 degrees because there is no heat.

Commissioners listened intently at the retreat when Supt. Bill Miller discussed how school facilities were renovated and replaced. Miller had a list of future needs that were already known based on the estimated lifespan of such items as roofs.

Other needs outlined in Edwards&squo; list included possible work on the recreation park road to the water tank, top dressing on the outfields and repairs to the infields that have been washing out.

At Gibson Park&39;s pool, the pump needs replacing, the pool is leaking and covers for the tables and picnic shelter are needed.

Stearns Gym recently received a new roof, doors, windows and gutters, but the ceiling, floor, bleachers and lights still need work, according to Edwards&squo; report.

The annex building next to the historic courthouse has bathrooms outside, the flooring in the transportation department needs replacing and paint is needed, he said.

The Polk County Jail is currently in need of a new roof, a shower is leaking and the sinks and toilets do not work in some cells.

County manager Whitson said he will be coming to the board in the next couple weeks regarding the jail roof as he is currently working on that project. Whitson also told commissioners that he appreciates their recognizing the need to upkeep facilities.

Commissioners say their plan is to fix immediate problems and put funding every budget year into an escrow account that will grow and be used as needed.