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MOROCCO — More than $400,000 was approved to be spent on replacing air conditioning and heating units at the Newton County Courthouse and Jail.

The Newton County Council approved the additional funding requests by the Newton County Commissioners at their regular meeting Sept.13.

A quote of $308,227 was given to the council by John Hivley, Maintenance Director, for a new ac/heating system for the third floor of the courthouse (the courtrooms).

Councilmember Michael Mark asked why the quote was so expensive and Hivley replied it was just a budgetary quote.

“It won’t cost that much,” said Hivley. “It has been hard to get an accurate quote because companies in that industry are so busy. This has been going on for more than a year. Companies won’t even return my calls. Prices have also (gone up) like crazy over the past four years.”

The additional funding was approved by the council out of landfill funds. Also approved out of landfill funds was the $130,075 funding request for replacing an air conditioning unit at the jail.

By a 4-3 vote, a motion to approve $6,700 in funding from the county’s riverboat fund was passed to put a metal roof on the log cabin located near the Government Center. Hivley said the metal roof will resemble wood. Councilmembers Pat Mulligan, Scott McCord, David Atkinson, and Tim Lohr voted for the new roof, while Abbey Rossiter, Scott Carlson, and Mark voted no.

By the same 4-3 vote, the council approved the commissioners’ funding request of $12,000 to have eGov Strategies revamp the county’s current website.

“I think that is way too expensive of a quote to use the same company as before especially when a lot of our constituents can’t even use the website now (because it hasn’t been upgraded or maintained).”

In other news, Susan Cowen of Baker Tilly presented the accounting firm’s budget projections based on numbers given to them by the council.

She projected that the general fund is closed to being perfectly balanced with revenue up over expenses by less than $2,000. She added that includes giving employees a raise of up to 5 percent.

However, not all of the county’s funds were in as good of shape. Cowen went on to say that the state would not accept the county’s motor vehicle highway fund because it projects a deficit of over $1.3 million.

“You will have to cut that now or the state will cut it for you,” said Cowen. “The total revenue has remained constant in that fund but the spending has increased by a lot over the past three years. A Wheel Tax could be a possible way to generate another stream of revenue.”

The council replied immediately stating they have no intention to create another tax.

The council plans to have another budget hearing next week and will adopt the county’s official budget on Oct. 25.

Also in other news, Newton County Economic Development Director Tim Myers reported that a company from Chicago has shown interest and even made an offer to purchase the Lake Holiday Shopping Plaza in Roselawn.

“The company specializes in turning shopping centers around,” said Myers.