The Grimes County Commissioners Court held a Regular meeting Wednesday, Aug. 28, and approved a number of adjustments to the proposed $28.8 million budget that included $295,000 to address repairs and capital improvements at the Grimes County Expo and Fairgrounds. The items included a new water well, septic work, paving the existing parking lot, replacing current lighting throughout the entire facility with LED lighting, purchasing an HVAC system with a “consumption controlled device,” and construction of a sidewalk by the handicapped parking to be compliant with the American with Disabilities Act.
Pct. 4 Commissioner Phillip Cox expressed his desire to address the projects at one time rather than in phases saying, “If we have the money in the bank now, we can accomplish all of these projects now. It’s not a phase project. It’s not a department project. This is a county asset owned by the taxpayers that is in need of some long overdue improvement.”
Other adjustments approved included $8,700 for salaries in the Grimes County Sheriff’s Office, $1,600 in Environmental Services related to the closure of the Keith dump and additional service days added in Bedias and Iola, and $1,800 for certification pay for an employee in the district attorney’s office.
Also approved were Road and Bridge’s request for $4,800 to compensate for subdivision management duties transferred to that department. A related request was $6,900 for David Lilly who will no longer handle subdivision management but assume duties as the Emergency Management Services Coordinator working with and monitoring the county’s volunteer fire departments.
An additional $5,500 for the auditor’s department was approved by the district judges and did not require a vote by commissioners.
Road and Bridge Engineer Harry Walker reported receipt of $85,000, the initial payment from the Texas Division of Emergency Management, for October 2018 flood damages already repaired by the county. Total reimbursement expected is $267,000.
In addition, he has received the contract documents from the General Land Office (GLO) regarding the 2016 Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program. The $2 million grant with a $20,000 county match is a two-year contract that will go through August 2021 for work primarily in the Blackberry community.
Walker said, “The folks out there worked hard. They worked with us doing everything they could to help carry this grant. We appreciate the support and glad it worked out.”
Bond attorney selected
Commissioners approved the law firm of Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta as the bond attorney to represent the county during the funding process of the proposed Justice Center. Commissioners voted 4-1 in favor with Pct. 4 Commissioner Phillip Cox voting nay.
Cox was reluctant to move ahead with hiring a bond attorney because of “too many unanswered questions” such as how much the county is willing to borrow and how will it be funded - a bond election, tax notes or Certificates of Obligation?
Responding with the direction he believed the court was going, Judge Joe Fauth said, “One, we’re not going to raise taxes. Two, we did not want to hold a bond election, and three, we want to pay for this building with the revenue that’s already coming in. Your questions are valid, but some of them can’t be answered until we further the process.”
Making the motion to hire Bickerstaff as the bond attorney, Pct. 2 Commission David Dobyanski said, “We have to move forward with the process of getting bids to get the answers, in my opinion.”
Other court action:
•Approved consent agenda items that included Treasurer’s list of claims and bill, payroll, the Treasurer’s monthly report for July 2019 and authorized advertisement of affidavit of same, budget amendments and/or line item transfers and minutes as follows: Special Meeting, 8:45 a.m. and Workshop, 9 a.m., July 17; Regular Meeting, 9 a.m., Workshop, 11:35 and Special Meeting, 2:05 p.m., July 24; Special Meeting, 8 a.m., Aug. 5.
•Recognized County Court at Law Judge Tuck McLain for 30 years of service and fairground employee Ramon Zurita for 15 years of service.
•Approved the Sheriff’s and Constable’s fee for 2020 with no change from previous year.
•Tabled action to approve transfer of internet service from USFon to BVCOG.
•Adopted a Resolution to authorize signatories for the 2016 Flood Allocation CDBG-DRG Program and procurement of related engineering services.
•Adopted a Resolution that contains the following required civil rights policies as required by the CDBG-DR: Citizen Participation Plan and Grievance Procedures, Section 3 Policy, Excessive Force Policy, Limited English Proficiency Standards Plan, Section 504 and Grievance Procedures, Code of Conduct Policy and Fair Housing Policy.
•Fulfilled Fair Housing obligations by proclaiming April as Fair Housing month.
•Received a Road and Bridge report from Engineer Harry Walker that included updates on preparation and chip sealing of approximately 5 miles of county roads, tree removal, drainage, mowing and contractor work progress.
•Approved amendments to Commissioners Court Rules of Procedure, Conduct and Decorum as specified by H.B. 2840.
•Tabled approval of Fraud Policy to update the list of elected and appointed officials and department heads included on the signature page.
•Approved an amendment of the Commissioners Court Rules of Procedure, Conduct and Decorum in compliance with H.B. 2840 to be effective Sept. 1, 2019, with some verbiage changes.
Burn ban status
No action was taken on the burn and it remains in effect.