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Commissioners Carry $1,339,330.70 in Cash Balances Forward to 2018 Budget; County Seeks Faster Internet

November 8, 2017 - The Shelby County Commissioners met November 1, 2017 and collectively carried forward $1,339,330.70 in monies from their 2017 budgets.  

Each of the commissioners had a cash balance remaining in their budgets at the end of the budget year and there are options on what can be done with that money. 

Jason Fulbright, Intelligent Computer Concepts, spoke with the commissioners about the advantages of switching the courthouse to fiber internet service.Clint Porterfield, County Auditor, suggested to the commissioners they leave at least a portion of their remaining cash balance to help cover end of year expenses for the next year.

"I'm going to ask the court to take action to recognize the year end balances to begin with and then need to take action to decide of that amount, how much each precinct would like to budget as cash forward in their fiscal year 2018 budget," said Porterfield.

He explained that amount would then be budgeted in each commissioners' expenses and can be put into fixed assets, or material purposes at their discretion.

Porterfield let the commissioners know it was acceptable for the full amount to be budgeted; however, he wanted them to bear in mind at the end of next year they have the month of October before tax collections take place, and during that time the commissioners will have bills to still pay. He cautioned that if the full amount was budgeted, there would be future discussions to insure they don't spend the total amount.

Each of the commissioners expressed their wishes as follows:

Roscoe McSwain, Precinct 1 Commissioner, stated he was carrying over $479,330.70 and he chose to budget $429,000 to fixed assets leaving $59,330.70 of that amount un-budgeted.

Jimmy Lout, Precinct 2 Commissioner, stated he would budget $200,000 in fixed assets leaving $76,090.75 not budgeted.

Charles Barr, Precinct 3 Commissioner, chose to move $200,000 to fixed assets and according to financial records that leaves a remainder of $91,944.73. 

Bradley Allen, Precinct 4 Commissioner, elected to maintain $460,000 in fixed assets and leave $56,185.22 not budgeted.

A motion carried to recognize the cash balance of the four precincts and to adjust the cash on hand as each commissioner indicated.

Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison informed the commissioners of a request made by Judge Melissa Crouch, Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace, for software to be installed on her computer. Her assistant already has the software on her computer; however, Judge Crouch would like to have the software as well, so she may perform tasks with it from her computer.

Judge Harbison said the cost for the additional Serenity Software is $1,409.20. Porterfield informed her there were funds available in the Justice of the Peace Technology fund.

A motion carried to approve the purchase of the software.

Next on the agenda was a resolution for the Indigent Defense Grant Program which Judge Harbison explained has to be considered every year as a formality to get the grant.

"While we spend over $200,000 on legal defense for indigents we usually only get back $20,000-$25,000," said Judge Harbison.

A motion carried to approve the resolution for the Indigent Defense Grant Program.

Ann Blackwell, County Treasurer, accompanied by Jason Fulbright with Intelligent Computer Concepts spoke about upgrading the courthouse internet from DSL and U-Verse to a fiber connection.

Judge Harbison explained there are difficulties with the internet at times. Some offices are on DSL and others are on U-Verse.

"DSL never goes down, but it's slow. U-Verse goes down quite often," said Judge Harbison.

Blackwell said she put together numbers because she was asked to figure out what the cost would be to make the change to fiber. She said she knows a lot of businesses in Center are changing over to fiber which she understands is a more reliable option.

The plan which has been proposed would drop the cost of each phone line to $13.30 each using voice over IP (VOIP). Blackwell said that is a great improvement over where she has already been able to decrease the cost. 

In speaking with other individuals about the changeover it was recommended, and Blackwell suggested to Fulbright, the courthouse retain one analog phone line for each main office in the building as a backup in the event the fiber were to go down. Even still she says that will be a savings to the county.

The cost for the new lines would be $1,131 plus taxes and fees likely savings around $200 a month by switching to fiber. According to Blackwell, upgrades within the courthouse would cost around $2,500 and with the savings on the bill she said it wouldn't take long to recoup that expense.

Fulbright explained fiber is more of an enterprise internet solution.

"The U-Verse product, which predominantly a lot of people have, was originally rolled out as a consumer product. Simply because it did offer some higher speeds, businesses, public offices began to adopt it," said Fulbright. "The problem that we've seen with U-Verse is it has a tendency to go down quite often."

Fulbright continued to explain, when the system goes down they aren't sporadic outages, it's countywide and for a long period of time. 

"[Fiber] does obviously cost more but they have what's called a service level agreement of 99.9% access and what it offers is speeds that you cannot get with U-Verse product," said Fulbright.  

He also described the opportunity of future expansion that fiber paves the way for by having it available. Fulbright said with the increase of state agencies doing more online there's going to be a dependency on higher speeds.

"Everything is going to be more online," said Fulbright.

Fulbright detailed how many businesses locally as well as City of Center have already been using fiber. 

A motion carried to go forward and upgrade the courthouse internet service to fiber for a 24-month contract.

Commissioner Barr presented a need to lease a maintainer. He expressed how it wasn't something he intended on having to do at this time; however, his precinct got down to one machine and he's had to use one on loan from precinct 1.

CASE and Caterpillar both brought in demo machines for him to consider.

The total cost for the Caterpillar was listed at $238,414.

A motion carried to lease the Caterpillar for three annual payments, arrears at $38,769.85 with 2,000 hour min run.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:12am.

Martha Ventura (front) is a Panola College student of governmental studies. As part of her class she was to attend a local government meeting and following the Commissioners' Court the officials posed with her for a photo.