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Forsyth County commissioners to consider shifting money

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners will consider shifting money on Nov. 25 to pay for improvements at the Hall of Justice and remodeling projects at the Forsyth County Government Center.

In transferring the money to other capital projects, the board would be deciding against buying a dental clinic building that it now leases and against a pilot project using electric vehicles.

The change would also allow immediate improvements to the Hall of Justice while the county waits to pursue a larger renovation project.

County Manager Dudley Watts said the county likes to close out old projects and roll money into other projects.

“ Moving money around like that is not unusual,” said Richard Linville, chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.

The county has been working on a project to outfit vacant space on the fifth floor of the government center and is now proposing to transfer $523,000 to an expanded project which would include renovation of some unused space on the fourth floor as well. That would bring the total project budget to $848,000.

The fifth floor will accommodate the interim move of library administrators while the Central Library is renovated, Watts said.

Some health department administrative operations will also be moved into some of the renovated space in the future. They are temporarily being moved to the former Sheriff’s Office. This will save the county lease payments, which were about $96,000 a year at Liberty Plaza, according to Forsyth Budget and Management Director Ronda Tatum.

To accommodate the proposed work, some of the money moved include $121,000 that had been set aside in 2012 for a special use electric vehicles project. Watts said this was a pilot project he proposed, to buy electric vehicles for the county, but it never got off the ground.

“ While it was something good to investigate, it was not really a feasible thing to do,” Watts said.

Funding will also come from $402,000 that was originally set aside for the possible purchase of the Cleveland Avenue Dental Clinic building, which the county has been leasing. The original lease term expired this year, but the county did not exercise its option to buy the space, instead approving a two-year lease with North Carolina Baptist Hospital.

As for the $469,276 Hall of Justice funds, Watts said Friday that the money had originally been set aside to hire an architect to start a proposed addition and renovations project at the Hall of Justice, but at this point the project is so far out that the funds need to be repurposed.

Watts said the money would be better spent right now on improving the building. Improvements could include carpeting, lighting, furniture and fixtures.

By Meghann Evans/Winston-Salem Journal