DOBSON — The laundry list of needed equipment is lengthy in Dobson, according to town officials.
On Wednesday Dobson Commissioners heard the budget requests of department heads at the town board’s annual retreat held at Putters Patio and Grill.
Requests ranged from a new police cruiser to lawnmowers, but the common theme was replacing aging equipment.
Police Chief Shawn Myers said his department is in dire need of a new vehicle to patrol the streets of Dobson. One of the department’s cruisers has been deemed no longer safe to even participate in a car chase should one occur in the town.
Myers is requesting the town purchase a 2016 Ford Explorer at the cost of about $32,000. The vehicle would come nearly fully equipped, in need of only a $1,700 radar unit.
Myers also said technology is an issue in his department.
“We are currently sharing one computer among five officers,” noted Myers.
The plan Myers presented to commissioners would require two new laptops at a cost of $1,700 each. Laptops would then be assigned to each officer instead of being assigned to a car. When officers are done patrolling, they would simply carry their laptops into town hall and plug in at a workstation.
Public Works Director Michael Frazier told commissioners his streets department would likely need about $40,000 for miscellaneous street improvements in town.
Chief among the projects is Folger Street. Frazier said the street needs to be resurfaced and drainage issues addressed. However, commissioners must make decisions regarding parking for the town’s new park and beautification initiatives before a project to resurface the road begins.
“We need to figure out our master plan first,” explained Frazier. “My thought is we can fix the infrastructure this year, and maybe pave the road next year.”
Frazier said installing a catch-basin might be necessary, but he did not provide a figure for how much such a project could cost.
Commissioners approved adding one additional full-time employee, whose task will be maintenance at Dobson Square Park, to the town’s workforce.
However, Town Manager Josh Smith said continued employment of one part-time employee at the park to cover the two days on which the full-time employee is off duty will also be necessary. The employee will cost the town about $5,000.
Smith also told commissioners $4,000 in additional lawn equipment would be needed at the park, explaining the use of the town’s other lawn equipment could infest the grass at the park with weeds.
The recreation budget proposal also included adding $2,500 to the special events fund. Smith said that money would be used to support additional recreation programs at the park.
A $1,000 increase to the community outreach fund was also included in Smith’s proposal.
“One comment (about the park) I’m hearing is, ‘There aren’t any swings,’” said Misty Marion, municipal services manager.
Marion told commissioners the park has room for the swings, and a set of eight swings would cost the town about $10,000.
Marion’s quote included everything necessary to install the swings, such as mulch.
Dobson will soon begin its overhaul of the town’s water treatment plant. While commissioners had already planned for a $200,000 contribution to that project, Frazier also filed his request for needed equipment.
Among those proposed expenditures is $7,500 for 30 water meter replacements as part of the town’s plan to continually replace aging meters, a $2,500 portable fuel tank, $6,000 to replace fire hydrants and $8,000 for hand-held meter readers.
Frazier also said plumbing updates and a new vault at the water tank near town hall will cost about $15,000.
Updates to major parts of the town’s sewer infrastructure headlined Frazier’s requests for the sewer portion of his department.
Repairs to three pump stations in the town will cost Dobson $28,000 if commissioners concur with Frazier’s budget recommendations.
Frazier also requested $20,000 to replace outfall lines and manholes behind Surry Community College.
“It’s the oldest section (of sewer lines) in the town and everything runs through it,” explained Frazier.
Large items at the town’s sewer plant for which Frazier has asked for funding include a $65,000 generator and $20,000 for an electrical panel.
Frazier also said his department is in need of a new mower for mowing around outfall lines, the lines which discharge wastewater. The cost of the $8,000 mower would be split evenly between the water and sewer funds.
According to Smith, the fire department’s needs are fewer than the needs of Frazier’s department.
Smith told commissioners the department was in need of about $10,000 for improvements at the fire station such as replacing counter tops, chairs, tables and floors. Additionally, the department must have its hoses tested annually by an outside entity.
Smith said the hose testing would have a price tag of about $1,600.
A less-urgent need of a “brush truck,” which would cost about $30,000, was also brought to the attention of commissioners. Smith said the four-wheel-drive Ford F-250, F-350 or similar vehicle would be equipped with a water tank and a hose.
“It would be of use for smaller calls,” remarked Smith. “It’s not necessarily an urgent need.”
Other budget matters
Smith will be asking for a three-percent pay increase for the town’s employees. He said the increase is higher than the cost-of-living increase, but might be necessary to ensure the town’s wages are competitive with the salaries of other municipalities. Smith also asked for a five-percent merit bonus for town employees.
Smith warned commissioners a property revaluation could affect property tax revenues.
Though commissioners did not discuss a need for any tax or fee increase, Smith provided the board with data which could be of use should the move be considered.
“I just provide this as a snapshot in case you want to generate more revenue,” explained Smith as he showed the board a slide.
According to Smith, a tax increase of one penny in Dobson equates to $13,800 in additional revenue for the town. A $1 garbage collection fee would result in a $6,000 increase in revenue for the town.
Andy is a staff writer and can be reached at 415-4698.