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Cast-iron pipes at the Cumberland County Jail had extensive damage, requiring additional funds to repair the problem.

The county needs another $18,000 to complete a plumbing repair at the county jail after finding the $13,000 budgeted won’t be enough to cover the costs.

“When they got into the project, it was a worse problem than they anticipated,” Nathan Brock, county finance director, told the Cumberland County Budget Committee May 5. 

The jail paid about $900 for an assessment of the issue. A camera was run through the drain pipe and found two areas that had ruptured. Three bids were sought, and Lee Company offered the lowest cost of $13,200 — barring any unforeseen problems.

As Lee Company began working, more areas of ruptured cast iron sewer pipe were found. The company estimates 20 feet of pipe must be replaced. That will also require cutting concrete and digging down to expose the pipe. Two sinks must also be replaced. 

Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner, asked if the problem was due to a flaw in the plumbing system design, lack of maintenance or if it was simply “worn out.”

Brock said, “It appears to be just a failure of the pipe or the pipe’s gotten worn out. Grease is really hard on cast-iron pipes.”

County Mayor Allen Foster said the system is supposed to be flushed periodically as part of a preventative maintenance plan. The Sheriff’s Office is looking at acquiring the equipment to do that in the future.

Jim Blalock, 8th District commissioner, said the county should consider purchasing equipment to perform assessments for similar repairs. 

“This is a perfect example,” he said. “We’re spending a fortune hiring people to come in and do this.”

“It is the business of the county commission to build the buildings and keep them up,” he added, saying he didn’t think the sheriff should have had to use his operating budget on a maintenance project.

According to the report, the jail reprioritized its maintenance budget to fund $13,200 for the initial contract.

The panel approved a budget resolution for $18,313 to complete the repairs, with funds coming from the county fund balance. The resolution must be approved by the full commission. 

The committee also approved a budget resolution to address bookkeeping requirements by the state comptroller’s office. Brock explained there were several items the county had budgeted and planned to spend in the 2018-’19 fiscal year. However, the items were not received until the 2019-’20 fiscal year began July 1. 

The comptroller wants the county’s financial records to reflect the fiscal year when the items were received. In the past, these had been set up as payables.

However, it doesn’t change how much the county paid, he said. 

The resolution decreases the unassigned fund balance $147,905 and increases expenses in other capital outlay, $139,980; building maintenance and repair, $350; building improvements, $2,300; and county coroner, $5,275.

In other action, the panel approved the following items:

•increasing the school system food supplies community service by $125 to account for increased community donations

•increasing revenue in the school maintenance department and increasing expenses for supplies and materials by $15,900 following the receipt of a grant for roof access safety ladders from the Tennessee Risk Management Trust

•accepting $1,252 donation for construction of an exercise area at the Cumberland County Animal Shelter

•set the county’s contribution to employee retirement funds at 5.5%

•moving $1,221 in the county trustee budget to cover increased costs in communication services and office supplies

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.