Discussion over how much should be set aside for public works in the upcoming budget put some Lebanon city councilors at odds during a work session on Saturday at City Hall.
The matter concerns budgetary items for the new public works building that used to be the police department before it moved to its new location on East Baddour Parkway.
A capital addition provision exceeding $500,000 for the public works department was estimated to be needed to facilitate the relocation.
This drew the ire of Ward 6 Councilor Jeni Lind Brinkman — not because the figure was necessarily too high, but because she feared it might not be enough.
Advocating for a fiscally responsible approach, Brinkman said she didn’t want to have to revisit the amount they agreed to budget down the road if the current amount proved insufficient.
Brinkman said that she was “frustrated,” at how public works requests in the past had proven significantly lower than what the ultimate price tag wound up costing the city and that she doesn’t want to see that happen here.
Ward 1 Councilor Joey Carmack was quick to lend support for public works’ requests and the possibility of prices sometimes increasing unexpectedly. He likened the estimate process to an experience one might have getting their car worked on.
“You take your car to the shop and they give you an estimate. Sometimes, they might find something else.”
In addition to Carmack, Ward 3 Councilor Camille Burdine said she supported the department’s discretion.
“It’s not like they’re buying neon lights for the building,” Burdine said, adding, “We really need to treat the city like a home and protect the assets we have.”
The new public works building will be across the street from the current public works department. Some of the items public works needs will just be relocated from the old building.
However, Public Works Administrator Lee Clark said that he is repurposing the old building for other city employees who can use some of the desks and chairs, so new furniture for the new building will be required.
When asked if current budget line items were sufficient, Clark said, “I believe everything we are going to need is inside this current budget.”
Lebanon’s Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Baines also said that he felt “confident” in the estimate his department had presented for consideration.