Grimes County Commissioners Court held a Regular Meeting Wednesday, July 22, but viewing the meeting was anything but regular. In this COVID-19 era of limited gatherings, court has been available via Facebook Live, but technical issues and staff absences because of virus exposure prevented viewing and recording Wednesday. Grimes County Judge Joe Fauth, however, took matters into his own hands by later posting a 22-minute recap of the 2 hour, 25 minute meeting on the Grimes County Courthouse Facebook page.
Tax rate addressed
Commissioners approved that the voter-approved tax rate be calculated at 8% in the manner provided for a special taxing unit.
Fauth acknowledged property owner concerns that the value of their property has diminished since the Grimes Central Appraisal District’s January appraisals because of COVID-19. He also summarized the 3.5% cap on property tax increases mandated in Senate Bill 2 as well as the impact of the federal and state declarations of emergency during COVID-19.
Fauth said, “What the court approved today is that if we did have to use the valuation money that you’ve already been taxed on, if we had to, we could take that up to an 8% level. It’s not our intention to do that unless there’s a significant drop in the sales tax and other extenuating circumstances associated with COVID. It does allow us as a court to adjust that rate. You’re not going to pay any more taxes for last year. That’s already been resolved and taken care of.”
PSVFD tier payments
Commissioners approved payment to the Plantersville Stoneham Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) for the third and fourth quarters of the 2019- 2020 fire funding contract year based on tier level validated by Emergency Management Services Coordinator David Lilly.
Fauth said, “Because we really did not get any response from Plantersville Volunteer Fire Department until the third quarter of this year, we as a court made the decision that there was no reimbursement due for Q1 and Q2 of 2020 because we did not have qualifying records to substantiate the VFD’s qualifications for the county’s contract with them.”
Fauth said PSVFD made a good-faith effort in the third quarter to get records audited by Lilly and completed the final requirement.
Bedias-Navasota fiber ring
Commissioners approved extensions of the Brazos Valley Council of Government (BVCOG) seven-county fiber ring project to Bedias and Navasota. Initially, the fiber ring will serve only medical facilities, first responders and businesses.
Fauth said, “We are able to connect our Precinct 3 location in Navasota. The trunk goes down 105 but to get to the facility, it’s right at a $60,000 expenditure. The fiber ring continues up Highway 90 into the Bedias area. We have the clinic there, the first responders at the VFD, and the community center…they really don’t have good internet connections. For us to make the connection to that area is another $53,000 so the two of those is $113,000.”
According to Fauth, approximately 98% of the cost will be covered by CARES Act funds.
Employee Covid costs
Commissioners approved a protocol to reimburse employees out-of-pocket expenses for employer-mandated COVID-19 testing. According to Fauth, if employees are exposed to someone who has tested positive, they will be asked to stay off work for five days. If employees are showing symptoms, testing is required. While the county medical plan will cover most testing costs, the county will pick up out-of-pocket expenses and seek reimbursement through the CARES Act.
Commissioner David Dobyanski is working with the Aggieland Humane Society to provide Grimes County Rescue Network with 25-$65 vouchers for low-to-middle income families for dog and cat spay/ neutering services.
The burn ban remains lifted.
Other court action:
•Approved Consent Agenda Items that included Treasurer’s list of claims and bills, payroll and budget amendments and line item transfers.
•Approved renewal of a Special Road Use Permit and Indemnity Agreement for Expert Analysis on CR 311.
•Approved waterline installation permits for Wickson Creek at Long Drive near John Rice, CR 185 near 4565 (Bell), and CR 185 near 4565 (Caraway).
•Received a report from Kyla Gladson about Texas A&M AgriLife events and activities.
•Received a Resolution from the Grimes County Republican Party opposing high speed rail through Grimes County.
•Approved revision to A1 Cleaning Agreement for travel fees.
•Approved agreement with Navasota ISD to provide and manage the School Resource Officer Program (High Point Elementary) and authorize the county judge as signatory.
•Approved award of the CR 204 reconstruction contract to Glenn Fuqua, Inc., for his bid of $560,000, and authorized the county judge as signatory.
•Authorized Road and Bridge Engineer Harry Walker to issue request for proposals (RFP) for administrative services and request for qualifications (RFQ) for engineering services related to the Community Development Block Grant-Mitigation (CDGB-MIT).
•Received the Road & Bridge report that included mowing, culvert work, bridge repair, ditch, and drainage work.
•Authorized county attorney Jon C. Fultz to file Grimes County’s claim against Purdue Pharma in a class action opioid litigation.
•Discussed expenditures related to the $200,000 pre-funding received through CARES Act and monitored by Assistant Auditor Mary Johnson.