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County staff frozen out of vehicles

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By Chris Van Ormer

 

The county’s freeze on vehicle purchases must be thawed. 

County Administrator Brad Thorpe told the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday he needed access to the vehicle trust available balance, a fund that commissioners were advised to freeze in December in response to Duke Energy creating a budget shortfall by paying just over half of its assessed property tax bill.

“That’s become problematic because literally you have frozen every vehicle, including lawnmowers, for purchase,” Thorpe said. “What I’m asking for you to do is basically unfreeze that. Let me have the authority based on the emergency nature of replacing vehicles and I will do that carefully and we will still maintain the vehicle trust fund as a reserve fund for the emergency response for the unfunding of the Duke Energy issue.”

The most immediate problem was that a new utility employee did not have a vehicle to go out and do his job checking leaks in water lines, the board heard. 

Commissioner Scott Adams suggested putting vehicle purchases on the consent agenda, but Thorpe also could foresee repairs keeping vehicles out of service until the board met.

After discussion, the board voted unanimously to allow Thorpe to make vehicle purchases if the action was an emergency. 

* Marla Chancey, director of tourism at Citrus County Visitors and Conventions Bureau, presented a full-color publication called Visit Citrus Magazine, to replace a brochure. Copies are placed where they will be taken and read and are mailed to people who ask about the county. County staff did the work and the printer was paid through the advertising, making the magazine budget-neutral.

* Robert Sheets with Government Services Group and Michael Bomar with Tetra Tech presented ways the county would benefit from the Restore Act of 2010 that will provide funds from the parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, 2010, to invest in environmental projects along the Gulf Coast. 

Funds will be available through five streams, but the board will need to get projects ready to make applications for the funds that will be spread among five states.

After discussion, the board voted in favor of asking Sheets and Bomar to return with a scope of work proposal for assisting the county’s applications.

Chronicle reporter Chris Van Ormer can be reached at cvanormer@chronicleonline.com or 352-564-2916.