Promise kept: City Council establishes vehicle replacement and maintenance funds

Published 8:16 am Saturday, May 23, 2015

Following through on a pledge to do a better job of maintaining city facilities and replacing city vehicles, Washington’s City Council unanimously authorized establishing a fund to do just that.

The action came during the council’s May 11 meeting as part of the approval of the council’s consent agenda. During the council’s April 30 budget work session, council members agreed to establish vehicle replacement and facility maintenance funds.

The council appropriated $1,233,937 for vehicle replacement and $500,000 for facility maintenance. The $1,733,937 will be taken from the city’s fund balance (general fund). Under the plan, the city would add about $500,000 to the vehicle replacement fund each year, when fiscally feasible.

City Manager Brian Alligood told the council that earmarking the money for the two specific uses should help keep the state from looking at the city’s fund balance (rainy-day fund), determining the city has plenty of money on hand then possibly reducing some revenues the city receives from the state. Designating some of the city’s fund balance for specific uses lets the state know the city isn’t sitting on a pile of money that’s not being used, he said.

Setting up the vehicle replacement fund will put the city in position to develop a vehicle replacement schedule that spreads out replacing police cars, fire engines and garbage trucks over a period of time, city officials said, instead of buying many vehicles one year and buying few vehicles the next year.

Under the vehicle replacement schedule, the city would spent $5.5 million through fiscal year 2021 to replace vehicles, from fire engines to tractors to small pickup trucks.

Under existing policy, the city has designated $2.35 million for an operating reserve (equivalent to two months’ revenue in the general fund) and $2 million for recovery efforts in the event of a natural disaster. The city also has $1 million designated for a new police station.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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