By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
The budget committee approved spending up to $5,000 to purchase a new riding mower for mowing at the Cumberland County Health Department and the Community Complex.
Last month Karen Roper, director of the Cumberland County Health Department, told the committee she was having a problem getting the lawn mowed at the new health department because the old mower from the previous location was no longer usable and there was not enough maintenance staff at the new facility to mow.
"We're going to need a new mower or someone to mow. The grass is getting tall out there and we need to have something done," Roper said.
The committee then by consensus decided to check into the mowing situation with Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey and see if the building could be added to the county mowing list.
Mike Harvel, 7th District commissioner and Cumberland County Solid Waste/Recycling employee, said, "That program is funded by the litter grant and I think it's pretty well full right now. We can't go beyond what's covered by the grant."
While the committee was looking at the county mayor's budget, Harvel suggested somebody from the Community Complex could mow at the health department and Mayor Carey had the Cumberland County Community Complex maintenance department go over and mow at the health department.
Dave Hassler, 3rd District commissioner, said he had a problem with property being mowed that was not owned by the county.
"There are only two or three non-profits that we mow and they take very little time," Carey said.
Fourth District Commissioner Allen Foster and 8th District Commissioner Jeff Brown both agreed and said they had a problem with mowing being done on non-county property.
"If there's county property needing to be mowed and we can't, then I have a problem with it," Foster said.
Brown also suggested contracting the mowing out to another business.
Carmin Lynch, 9th District county commissioner, said he would like to know how much time was being spent mowing property other than that which is owned by the county.
"The county is going to spend money on this either way we go ... I think the county should come first," Lynch said.
During this month's budget committee the subject came up again.
Carey explained there was not enough time for the jail mowing crew to mow at the health department and that program was funded by the litter grant.
"With all the mowing they're doing, their schedule is pretty much full. Most of them are quick mowing jobs," Carey said. "That job there at the health department is a job that will take several hours."
Harvel said he went to the health department and looked at the lawn.
"The slopes around that building are humongous. It's a liability and an accident waiting to happen. I think we ought to take bids on it and have it contracted out," Harvel said.
Also discussed was an idea that Kim Chamberlin, architect with Upland Design, had previously mentioned an option to plant a slower growing grass on the slopes surrounding the health department building.
The committee decided to check into an update on that situation as well.
Carey also said they didn't have enough mowers at the Community Complex for that staff to mow at the health department on a regular basis.
"I think we ought to replace the mower for the health department and maybe have some part-time maintenance to mow it," Carey said.
"Where would the money come from?" 1st District commissioner Harry Sabine asked.
"I would say the fund balance," Carey said.
"Maybe we ought to have the Community Complex buy the mower and they would have it for mowing, too. We would cover it and let the health department use it when they need to," Sabine suggested. "Or come back at the end and place it in the capital items to purchase at the end of budget deliberations."
Sabine also suggested turning the matter over to the building and grounds committee.
"Well, it needs to be addressed now. It's really not something that can wait for another meeting or another month," Carey said.
Harvel then made a motion to spend up to $5,000 out of the general fund balance to purchase a mower for the Community Complex to use and for the health department.
Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner, supported the motion and it was unanimously approved.
The county commission will also have to approve the action.