I will post the agenda for this meeting Thursday, as I am away from my scanner until then. In the meantime, here are my City Council notes from tonight's meeting
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
My notes on Presidio County tax rate increase Public Hearing, 3:00 PM, Presidio County Courthouse, Marfa, Sept 13, 2016
Here are my notes on the somewhat sparsely attended tax rate public hearing from today.
Presidio County Commissioners Court Tax Rate Public Hearing, 3:00 PM, Presidio County Courthouse, Marfa
Presidio County Commissioners Court Tax Rate Public Hearing, 3:00 PM, Presidio County Courthouse, Marfa
Judge Guevara, Loretto Vasquez and Eloy Aranda in attendance
Convened at 3:19 PM
Public comments, items not on agenda:
No public comments.
Judge's and commissioners announcements: None
Tax rate: proposed tax rate is .67804 increased from .63804, four cents difference.
Rollback is .68782. Below effective rate from last year as well (see scan)
Includes a three percent gross total raise for employees and elected officials with everyone receiving the same amount of money.
Waiting on Norma Arroyo, tax assessor. She wanted to be here to comment or answer questions.
Norma Arroyo is asked by Judge Beebe if his opinion of the Presidio County Appraisal District's misrepresenting the total difference to the County tax collections with the adoption of the new maximum homestead exemption rates. And also, does Norma agree that at the same time the PCAD was lobbying for a tax reduction they were not informing the county of the approximately $200,000 in collections no longer collectible by the county from new electrical infrastructure and that would have been the best time to do that?
Norma answers that there was a problem with the initial calculations on the homestead and that the PCAD reps had given us the proper numbers. So after working the numbers with Patty Roach the hit to the county was not as much as initially thought. She does agree that the impact of the state mandated unfunded tax breaks for the power systems was not presented and that since we that was such a big ticket account, it should have been brought up, if not then then sometime before that.
Judge Beebe thanks her for her insight because it is important to point out that one of the biggest issues we have this year could have been avoided if the appraisal district had done their job in informing their clients of changes to the tax collections. Please remember that the appraisal district's clients are the citizens and the entities and if he had been giving a grade for this it would be an "F". Some laughter.
Norma says she is satisfied with the way the homestead exemptions worked out and the other issue was pretty bad, but things will work out this year. Beebe thanks her.
Judge Guevara talks about being sure from now on that we get all the information we need before budget time. We learned a lesson here. Eloy Aranda agrees as well.
More discussion about the importance of knowing what is coming from the State level and being sure that communications with PCAD improve re monies coming in.
End of public hearing.
Notice of tax rate Increase, Presidio County for public hearing on tax rate, Sept 13th, 3:00 PM, Marfa
Here are my notes from the meeting. The meeting at 3:00 pm later in the day addressed the tax rate.
Presidio County Commissioners Court Regular Meeting Tuesday September 13th, 9:30 AM Presidio County Courthouse, Marfa.
Presidio County Commissioners Court Regular Meeting Tuesday September 13th, 9:30 AM Presidio County Courthouse, Marfa.
All commissioners present.
Judge and County Attorney present.
Meeting convened at 9:44 AM
Item 4: public comments:
Item 5:Announcements from judge and commissioners.
Judge talks about the tragedy in Alpine last week. Concern about our own school.
School had been locked down. Sheriff's office said that two officers had gone to the school initially, but one returned to jail shortly. Border patrol had zero agents in Marfa.
Texas DPS Sgt Snead was called and told judge that all troopers we're in Alpine assisting. Constable Marquez went to school to patrol at that point. DPS sent four game wardens to school here in Marfa. Judge communicated with MISD admin about safety and condition.
Word finally came about Alpine status and that situation was cleared. Judge Guevara, judge Beebe and Dina LaSoya went to school to speak to kids, reassure them and let them know that they can come to us for anything.
Courthouse security in general discussed. Panic buttons, fire hoses missing, etc. This week we will have a round table discussion for a safety plan with elected officials and dept heads about security procedures at the courthouse. Thursday or Friday. Judge thanks everyone for their efforts.
Commissioners: Vasquez asks about jail roof meeting 2:00 PM Thursday at jail. Yes.
Item 6: Mark Zollitsch from TAC regarding wellness program. Wellness incentive plan committee has met, proposed to adopt a two part wellness program. Annual physicals are the first part. Health assessment. Incentives for employees that complete items. Once first one is made, then secondary programs kick in. $50 gift card or a paid day off for first incentive. TAC rebates from Healthy County program will pay for this.
Second part is tobacco cessation program. Tobacco surcharge would be in effect for users who do not quit.
Judge asks about return of $74,000 we are projected to receive. Surplus distribution, not related to incentive program. Surplus is based on claims history. Judge says that the focus of the committee right now is to not punish people as much as reward them for participation.
White talks about his own quitting chewing tobacco after forty years of using it when a growth was found. Was a great incentive to quit that same day the doctor found it.
Judge asks for a motion. White makes motion to adopt program. Seconded by Hernandez. Unanimous.
Item 7- Courthouse panic buttons. WAVE technologies.
No presentation. Proposal within commissioners folders. White makes motion to approve. Judge asks for clarity on where in budget would this money come from. Patty Roach says that this would be for next year's budget. This would be for next year's. Judge says that system can be installed by Sept 30 th to be in this year's budget. Costs just over $11,000. Judge recommends service in Presidio at the Annex be budgeted in next year's budget. Aranda wants to know what money in this year's budget is available. Judge says that there is some money from the air ambulance fund. Patty says that is not right, it would come from several different departments.
Mostly from emergency management. Unanimous.
Item 8- Judge recommends we move to Item 22, S&K software presentation on cloud computing.
Presentation by owner Matt Brown on cloud computing.
Document management system. Automated system for paperwork reduction.
Scan store, retrieve and share.
Administrative control of access to data.
Keeps track of who made changes to docs and who viewed the doc.
Improved internal communications, easier and faster access to county data.
Several copies of records saved in cloud storage.
Will be able to integrate with State of Texas online portal in the future.
Judge and Virgie have questions about how effective this could be for dept heads and also for potential clients.
Beebe talks about how this is already being done in the JP Pct 1 office, hopefully other depts are addressing this on their own, but he is uncertain as to whether there is a benefit countywide.
John Fowlkes says that he thinks the real benefits to this is to the Clerk's office. County does not have anything to back up the paper deeds. Some outside commercial companies made copies of records but we do not have access. Since 2000 everything has been electronic but everything before that is vulnerable.
Brenda Silva Bentley says that at one point they were able to get many records scanned into a backup but were unable to get it completed.
John says that the clerk's office is where the issue really is since those deed records are irreplaceable. He does not see much benefit outside of there but there is definitely a need there.
Hernandez says that he would like to go ahead with exploring this since these guys will work with us on payment plans and options. Judge mentions that there is a federal statute from 2006 that more or less requires this for grant funding.
Fowlkes says that everyone who owns property in Presidio County has a potential gap in the title chains. If something was to happen, you could have a massive problem with potential tax values and inability to get title insurance.
Aranda brings up the situation a few years back when the county lost sensitive documents and we got a bad audit based on that.
Approximate cost of this would be $1000 per user for five years. Very inexpensive over time.
Company needs a site survey to see what the parameters of needs are for County offices.
Company rep brings up that although our systems work well independently we do not have a countywide system with customized access. Company can provide scanning services.
Patty Roach wants to know if this is software only proposal or also hardware. Matt says software only, but they can bring production scanners to lower costs.
Vasquez asks if once they tour the offices can these guys give us a more specific figure? Matt says yes.
Discussion only item.
Patty says that her general comment is that this type of project needs to take more advance planning. The nature of the documents makes this sensitive. Need to have a committee to decide if this will be countywide and the whos and whys about that.
Item 8- water service for Presidio Lely airport. No action taken.
Item 9- renewal of vision insurance for Presidio County employees.
Mindy Seahorn. Linked to item 10- TAC insurance.
Vision program: Ameritas administers it. Rates are unchanged from last year.
Looking for approval from commissioners.
Run through end of November of next year.
Item 10- TAC health insurance. Already approved. Rates went down 2% from last year. Says that surplus is determined by number of years in health pool, and also claims rate. This year was $74,000 surplus coming back to the County.
Deductible plan year dates start on December 1st for members.
Changes to prescription card: maintenance medication they now want you to use CVS mail order service. Negotiated rates are much lower for TAC. Using a different pharmacy will cost user one and a half times your original co-pay.
Specialty medications are still much cheaper than most plans. Only 35% co-pay.
Most plans at 50%.
Air ambulance supplemental services: possibility to add one of two options for supplemental air ambulance services, ground and air. Can make it voluntary for employees or an employee benefit. $9/month per employee first plan option. $24-$32/month for worldwide services and return transit.
Fowlkes asks about the low rates, and would these plans really cover these costs? Sound to good to be true. Mindy says that this covers the client with any company in the U.S.
Different company (Airmed) covers air transport only, not ground ambulance.
$55/year per employee.
Has to be air ambulance within their network. The only one out in this region is an Airmed copter. Either program is able to be offered voluntarily to employees to be deducted out of paychecks.
Discussion only item.
Five minute break at 11:13 AM
Reconvene at 11:33 AM.
Item 12- skipping item 11....
Big Bend Telephone company proposal. Aaron Rodriguez presenting.
Network buildout to courthouse, jail, old jail, golf course (potentially) and services in Presidio.
Five year contract pricing. 45 voice phone lines. Ten fax lines, five conference lines. Unlimited calling included.
Installation and implementation. Provide phone, network.
Training of each department individually.
45 Cisco IP phones.
Network buildout. 12 fiber buried cable. Switching.
Divide courthouse into quadrants. Jail would have own fiber system. Power vault would be there since jail has a backup generator. Battery backup for other buildings. Wifi in every location.
City of Presidio offices will be unchanged from present.
Internet options: Ethernet transport. 100mb or 50 mb systems.
Cloud computing requires adequate bandwidth.
Service agreement includes eight hours per month.
Possibility for managed network services later. Firewall log services. Public side of wifi network for visitors. Private side for in-courthouse work.
One time cost. Will be replacing nearly all wires. Fiber between floors. Working with facilities manager and historical commission on how to construct and be in compliance.
Most of buildout is within the monthly cost. Five years from now the monthly price will go down.
50/100 MB difference is $1550.
Judge says that over a year ago she reached out to BBT to upgrade us into the 21st century. She really wants this, but it will be a challenge to make this happen.
Right now telephone costs the county over $100,000 per year. This is a little more expensive than that for the first five years. Aaron brings up safety concern with wires running across the floor, etc.
Communication advances to county will be major.
Patty Roach joins conversation with regard to how to pay for this.
BBT says that regardless by this winter there will be service to most of Marfa for the 100MB. Installation is going on now.
Aranda wants to know with at the difference will be and what we need to pay to get this?
$8668.81 per month for 100MB service to courthouse. One time $15,000 fee. Aaron says that BBT and county can work with payment plan. Patty says she wants to do a more detailed analysis to figure out the best way to do it between the treasurer's office and OMB.
Aaron says that as long as we can get paid within the fiscal year, the timing can be worked with. Monthly costs could be reduced if county opts for a larger up front capital contribution.
Will have to be part of 2017 budget.
County is probably actually paying the same or more right now once all the bills are sorted out.
BBT says that until system is fully installed they will not bill. ATT will not need to be disconnected until BBT network is ready since they are not using much of any of that equipment.
White says that removing the long distance charges for locally made calls will reduce an X factor. Constantly will be the same bill every month. Better and faster internet.
Says that service calls to BBT in his experience is premium. Do not have to wait days for worker. Aaron says usually service guy will be here in two hours.
Hernandez wants to know where it is in the budget. Judge says it is already in there. Total costs $104,000 per year excluding the one time payment for install.
ATT says that they want to bid as well, Judge says. We will have to have an RFP, bid but we can tailor that to the needs.
Hernandez says we need to do this, we just need to get the numbers together and get it done somehow. Aaron says he will work with us on all the numbers.
Service contract can be negotiated every year since we are County and not private. Required by statute to have that each year.
Possibility of connecting airport with fixed base wireless connection.
End of presentation.
Forward to item 16- 4H club usage of Agriculture Barn:
Presentation by Lorinda Carillo, Brenda Klein, Hector Sanchez
Lorinda makes presentation about role of 4H in the county. Bringing up access to barn at county fairgrounds. Would like to use facility on a daily basis. Water, electric, and other things needed.
Roping arena: they would like to use it as well in developing a roping program.
Brenda Klein asks for ability to utilize the area.
Hector says that shooting sports are held out there and they are asking for designated leaders be allowed to come and go as they please to use the area.
Show season barn will need to be used because there is not another place to have animal storage. Would like to have access without causing the county trouble.
In past years there was an agreement in place to allow access.
Can make arrangements to keep the weeds down, other maintenance issues at arena if given some more access.
Main goal is to restart greater interest in the traditional activities of roping, animal raising, and agricultural activities.
Judge Guevara thanks them for helping the youth in town, especially now that Jessie Lea Schneider has resigned. The volunteers are so important at this point and always.
Judge goes over what the goals they have listed are. Says theses are all good things for our youth.
She knows that right now there is no open access at the arena but that may be because there is other stuff out there that may be valuable to the county.
White intervenes and says that it is embarrassing that this has had to come to commissioners court since this is specifically for the youth of Presidio County to use. He has asked the facilities manager to get this straightened out. Needs to be resolved in favor of the kids. This is something we have to do. We must support these kids. He is sorry that it has come to this.
Aranda says he this what happened over the years is that we closed gates because we had some problems out there at times. Not with these people but with others coming and going at all hours. Asks Sam to voice his opinion on what a good solution is.
Sam Cobos says that he wants everyone to use the county facilities as much as possible. Events occurred where changes had to be made. Required facilities use forms for usage. This has worked well.
Jessie Lea Schneider had access 24/7 since she was the county agent. Now that she is gone, We had to revisit the situation.
Had a call about a roping there on a Friday night and that the lock had been cut. Somebody took gasoline from a work truck. Changed locks to all facilities.
Now what Sam has done is Vizcaino Park is open every day from 7-7. Opening arena and barn from 7-7 as well. This is what we are doing now. Winter months or bad weather we may not have it open all the time.
After sunset there is no lighting, facilities are closed.
In the event that someone reserves the facility, we require the facilities use form. Now when we close the gates we leave them open for the archery and shooting on specific dates. Sponsors lock the barn and gate afterwards.
White says that the barn was built by the community specifically to benefit the youth of Presidio County. That building ought to be committed to the 4H and they should not need a use permit for either the barn or the arena.
Sam says that once livestock show starts and animals are present that he plans to give a responsible person a combo lock for 24 hour access during the livestock event.
Gate needs to be accessible at night and on the morning for parents for feeding, etc during that time period. Recommend two locks for that time.
Vasquez says he likes that idea, but he thinks there should be more than just one person, maybe six or so who can have access.
Sam says he will give Mandi Sanchez the combo and she will be responsible for everything out there.
Lorinda says that with all due respect Mr. Cobos was already approached about this idea but said no and that's why we are here now. Hector Sanchez yes he agrees, but they are here to get clarification. He would like to be able to sign an agreement to allow for their use even when it is not the stock show. Is there any way to do that? Roping group is year long.
Cobos says that it is open 7-7 every day. It will be open.
Virgie wants to know why they have to fill out all the forms, why can't they just use it?
Cobos says that without the form nobody would know who is using it and what is going on out there. Says that with regard to maintenance, we do the best we can, but before this last 4H event it rained too much and city was unable to mow.
Judge says that this action item also requests water and electric. She does not have a problem with that. Perhaps we form a committee to develop an agreement between them and the County.
Brenda Klein asks if the Roping Arena has to be used as a county equipment yard? Don Culberson wants to know why the land is not open to all all the time? Some times people drink beer out there, so what? Why do we restrict access to public lands, and why are we not trying to encourage use of public lands?
White says that we have already designated a different area for storing the sheriff's impound yard. For years and years we had it open and anyone can use it? We have built layers of bureaucracy and we are trying to legislate people's behavior.
Vasquez thinks that there could be a camera at the enable to monitor who is on the property.
Hector says that he and some of his roping friends had wanted to help maintain the p
Arena so that they could rope. Guys from Fort Davis were keeping it clean and then it got shut down because of problems. This weekend's roping event is going to be hindered by the disuse of the facility.
Jane Walker says that kids need to get to their animals in the barn for stock show 24/7. It is about watering, training, exercising the animals. Not just the kids, the parents are always there. With the gate locked it is a big problem.
When it gets really really cold the animals need to be inside the barn to gain weight.
White makes a motion to form a committee of Sam Cobos and himself to come back on Oct 11 to commissioners court with a solution for an agreement.
Any other commissioner is welcome to assist.
Cobos wants to know how to deal with this in the meantime. Vasquez says give the key to Mandi and she will be responsible for all this.
Harlan Hardy says we are right back where we were for now. The last two years he had not a problem, no incidents. Harlan Hardy says that every leader within 4H has gone though a background check to do the volunteer work. We are not just anyone.
Gary Mitschke says that as a past member of 4H adult leaders who helped build the barn it was built for this with private funds. This is for all the kids of the whole county.
This is what is important.
Cobos asks for the time being should he give the combo to Mandi? Any restrictions on who she can give it to? White says there is no way to enforce that. Give the combination and let it go.
Hector wants to know if he can practice roping? Yes, Mandi has the key.
Hernandez seconds the motion by White. Unanimous.
Reconvene at 1:17
Item 23- resident at golf course. Aranda makes motion to approve letting Larry Lunsford stay at golf course contingent on approval by County Attorney. Unanimous. Later John Fowlkes advises after being briefed by Judge about this decision. Lunsford wrote a letter of liability release. John says that volunteers carry very little liability as to their presence on county property. Has no real problem with it. Lunsford provided a release.
Commissioner Hernandez has to leave. Leaves at 1:19 PM
Commissioner White has to leave. Leaves as well.
Item 11- county Extension agent support item. County needs to approve in order to send message to State that we support getting a replacement.
$12,053.87 plus travel budget of just over $9,000 per year.
Vasquez makes motion to support. Aranda seconds. Unanimous.
Item 13- fees for civil services. Direct fees, $100 per service, Aranda makes motion. Same as last year.
Vasquez seconds. Unanimous.
Item 14- moving auditor's office to former extension agents office.
Auditor has money in budget for this move. Auditors office has outgrown that small office. Unanimous
Item 15- burn ban renewal. No action since Gary Mitschke is not in favor.
Item 17- Airport budget expansion/increase. Tabled for now until Patty comes back.
Item 21-John Fowlkes says he has the contract with City of Presidio. Waiting on City of Presidio atty opinion regarding new contact. Past due amount will be in separate contract.
Item 21- no action
Item 20- City of Marfa agreement for tax collection. Pretty much Same as City of Presidio's contract but with slightly different dates and a clause that allows for withholding payment to City if city does not pay on time. Marfa city council has already approved.
Judge motions to approve. Second by Vasquez. Unanimous.
Item 17- increase airports budget: Auditor Patty Roach says that airport wants $6,640 for CIP grant. Bids came in a bit high. TXDOT recommends LED lights. There is some funding left in the airports budget left over from unused Presidio airport funding. Patty recommends to increase. Aranda motions to increase. Vasquez seconds. Unanimous.
Item 18- RAMP grant program Marfa airport. Chase recommends. Judge motions to approve. Vasquez seconds. Unanimous
Item 22- TXDOT Ramp grant program for Presidio airport. Aranda motions positively. Unanimous.
Item 24- administrative session
Auditor- trying to wrap up external auditors questions. Need to advertise for elected officials salary increase. Budget hearing needs to be advertised as well.
Treasurer's report: $667,823.36 received since last court meeting.
Office of Management and Budget: submitted in writing. Katie asks if there are any questions. Judge asks about payroll numbers from last month. Three payrolls.
John asks about Lunsford motion letting him stay out there. Time limits, etc. says he would prefer that authorization to stay on property not be contingent on anything related to the golf course lease activities. Authorization to stay until further notice. Judge and commissioners agree. Vasquez wants to be sure that Lunsford is comfortable.
District and county clerk reports. Submitted in writing. Virgie asks for questions. Judge wants to know if Virgie knows the difference between indigent defense and indigent services. Some discussion, John says indigent services would include things like pauper burial, indigent defense is for legal items.
Treasurer Frances Garcia says on the civil side there are fees collected from probate etc that are slightly different.
Facilities Management: in writing.
Over 3000 people were here for Marfa Lights, judge says.
Capital Projects: in writing
Airports manager: in writing
Tax Assessor report: Norma says $360,000 plus, retained by county over 100,000.
JP 1 report: good month, over $23,000 collected. Good for an August.
JP 2 report: in writing.
Marfa EMS report: in writing, accepted. Judge compliments the detail in the report. Includes mileage, valuable data to secure potential grants.
Marfa Fire Dept: in writing, there was a false alarm. Accepted. Aranda says that Marfa EMS has better software than Presidio EMS, Eric is working on getting improved systems. Judge says Marfa EMS has better money reporting as well.
Presidio EMS: in writing.
Presidio Fire dept: judge says that Fire dept is giving an extensive report now, very detailed, excellent.
Jail report: numbers a little down... Gracie Parras says that on Sept 7th a rep from integrity steelworks came to analyze condition of jail facilities. Did an assessment and there are some things wrong. Will provide estimate for repairs. Missing security screws, etc. And on Sept 15th meeting about roof structure. Annual state jail standards inspection expected Sept 19th.
Judge says that Stonegarden personnel will be in Jeff Davis County at the end of the month, hopefully they come here. She will find out. Commissary fund- prisoners monies.
Sheriff's Office report: accepted in writing.
AgLife Extension report: final report from Jessie Lea Schneider.
Emergency Management Report: round table discussion about security at courthouse later this week.
Line Item Transfers:
Some money moving from places to the WAVE system.
Auditor transfer for scanning supplies.
OMB transfer for same.
Appraisal District payment.
Capital and fuel from County judge dept to go to phone. Office supplies.
County employee Isidro Garcia is coming back to work. Must be light duty work. Hopefully work in Presidio at County Annex.
Several other small ones in various departments.
Saved some money on external auditor, can transfer elsewhere.
Approved as presented unanimously
Notable bills: Treasurer Frances Garcia says there is nothing out of the ordinary this time.
Minutes from previous meetings:
Judge has a question regarding minutes from Aug 30th. Regarding people being overpaid. How many? Some people were not named on the agenda, so they were not included. Virgie confirms.
Patty says that reimbursements from two are coming without a payment plan. The others are paying between two fiscal years, reason for decision to come to commissioners. Taken care of. Judge is satisfied with answer.
Adjourn at 2:20 PM
Agenda for Presidio County Commissioners Court Regular Meeting Sept 13, 2016, 9:30 AM, Presidio County Courthouse, Marfa
NOTES on Presidio County Commissioners Court special budget meeting 09-12-2016 1:30 PM Presidio County Annex, Presidio
Presidio County Commissioners Court Meeting, 1:30 PM, September 12th, 2016, Presidio County Annex building, Presidio, TX
All commissioners and Judge in attendance.
Meeting convened at 1:49 PM
Judge attended RGCOG meeting in El Paso last Friday. Got a legislative update.
TAC representative Allen Bristol addresses court: he is a county relations officer.
Here to observe and assist if need be. Former county judge for Navarro County.
Judge says that this morning she and county atty, auditor and treasurer met with Marco Baeza from City of Presidio. Made an arrangement for city to reimburse the $131,000 owed. If commissioners approve, city will pay $6000 per quarter to relieve the debt. Will take some years to pay off. All money will be reimbursed.
Interest on amount will be zero.
Judge says that commissioners are going to have to review airport leases, currently some people pay, others do not. Mayor of Marfa says the city will contribute to CIP for airport once county has leases straightened out.
Talked to city of Presidio about funding for EMS rates and also activity logs.
Judge has asked them to provide more data to County in exchange for funding.
White says that he cannot understand why commissioners court cannot seem to get info from dispatch/Sheriff on activities related to emergency services. Judge says that she wants to talk to Sheriff and see if anything can be done. Judge Bishop says that all that data is easily available though dispatch logs. Names can be redacted.
Judge also says she has requested a copy of city of Presidio's budget with regard to EMS.
Hernandez says that City of Marfa gets its data from their collection agency for EMS.
Vasquez says that Presidio is unique in that CBP provides a lot of housing here for employees and taxes are not collected. Makes it difficult for the City of Presidio to fund EMS/fire. Perhaps we can ask them to help out with some funding.
Hernandez makes an announcement that he was invited to a meeting with the EPA and the Border Environmental Agency. Went to the meeting and they were talking about water system expansion north of City of Presidio. They are looking at possibly bringing city water as far as the airport. City has a 3.5 million dollar grant and plans to bring it all the way up to the cemetery. County could possible fund a booster station to bring water further to airport. 1.5-1.6 million dollars to do that.
Option two is to build a booster line and also a tank above Las Pampas to serve that area. Extra million or so dollars.
Rod Ponton says that the City of Presidio has to pressurize the water system to 120 psi right now to push it up to their water tank. Looking at building a new tank to relieve some of the pressure. Water line breakage is an issue right now.
Water well at airport was a dry hole. This could be an option.
Item 6: Budget workshop
Patty Roach presents. White says that by raising everyone's taxes we are burdening the taxpayers and we need to stop spending so much money. We need to stop spending money, we are spending too much. We are crushing the taxpayers, really hurting them.
Patty says that the deficit in the current proposed budget is now $226,916 with tax increase. M&O expenditures include new two new deputies, overtime for dispatch, no raises for county employees.
Money to fund this can come from jail reserves. Additional tax increase raises $238,837.
White asks about capital improvements for replacing the air conditioning at the jail. Yes, it is included. Just over $300,000 and it is in there, jail will still turn a profit. Water system problem at the jail, water pressure is not so good at times. Working on that problem.
Hernandez asks about individual budgets. Every dept went at least back to 2016 levels except for Sheriff's office. Patty says that non-departmental went up and Sheriff's Office went up.
Constable precinct two went up because Coker will be added to health insurance.
Aranda wants to know more about the HVAC cost at the jail. Have not yet spent any money on that project. Money was budgeted this past year, not spent. Patty says yes, it rolls forward. White says that taking care of the jail is top priority. Cannot risk losing it. Patty advocates for a five year maintenance plan to be considered and adopted for all county facilities and assets. Need to get that going a soon as possible.
White says we just do not have money right now to grant budget increase requests, gives example of the airport. Submitted a revised request for additional 100,000 dollars for capital improvements.
All that money would come from general fund. Airport does not generate enough money to cover it. Proposed raises for staff also would have to come from General fund. Money is not there.
Aranda wants to know more about airport request for money. Asks if there is any way to sell enough fuel to cover. Patty says no. This is for RAMP grant funding which is a fifty percent match from the state.
White reiterates that we have limited income and we cannot satisfy everyone's needs and wants. Essential services must be funded, everything else needs to be on the table. Spending way too much money. Judge Bishop says that the carpet in the annex needs to be replaced now, people are getting sick. Water leaked for years.
Aranda says that with regard to the airport that Chase has needed an employee at the Marfa airport, it is too busy to man by himself.
White mentions that Rudy has been a great help at the airport, and on weekends he is needed. Says that the county needs to advertise for a Fixed Base Operator to run this. Then money comes out of fuel sales. Judge says that what Chase is asking for is going to raise the tax rate, do we need this?
Hernandez is concerned that Chase may quit if we do not fund this. What then?
White says that if Chase was to quit then the County Commissioner in Pct one would have to cover it.
Patty says that everyone is replaceable. Virgie agrees.
White says that Chase has done a great job, but really not so much has changed ex let for overall improvements.
Hernandez says it is hard to know just how much work Chase has to put in.
White says that these two airports are rally different
Chase is asking for an additional $143,000. Employee and also re RAMP grant funding.
Hernandez wants to fund an employee and blow off the extra grant match money.
White says that air traffic at both airports will be increasing, but in order to fund this we would have to subtract from another budget.
Patty says that more reserves may be available, but it is risky. White says that if jail gets shut down we are sunk. Could happen overnight.
Judge revisits when Hugh Howard used to provide fuel at airport.
White says that the best the airport was ever ran was under Joe Moore. Hugh Howard did not maintain the facility well. We took it away from him because of this. Hired Chase later. Joe Moore as FBO was best but county commissioner and he got sideways and county ran him off.
Aranda says that at that time the FBO was only overseeing the Marfa airport, Presidio airport was absolutely dead. Johnny Williams had the contract, could not make it work. Since Chase took over, the Presidio airport has been a success.
White advocates for an FBO for Marfa, later possible try to get one for Presidio.
Brings up the contract that Chase presented to court a few months back. Commissioners rejected it because it was too lopsided. White says we need to stand our ground on this, what Chase is asking for this time is fairly similar.
Hernandez brings up contract proposal from Chase. John is not in favor. White says he read it and could not believe how lopsided it was. Katie says that the airport is not able to be leased out by the county as a condition of the RAMP grants. Aranda says he was not in favor of it. Hernandez says that we do not want to be held hostage, but we have to be conscious of the possibility of Chase leaving.
Hernandez says that Ron Anderson is interested in being the FBO. White says that Cade Woodard is interested as well. White says that even if we get an FBO we still need Chase to do grant admin, etc. Would cost county money to do this, lose a percentage of fuel sales. Has to work for all parties involved. Chase's proposal was far too lopsided.
Patty says that the county, if it wants to have a FBO, has to run the process. Has to be bidded out. Has to be run though OMB and done right. Not steered by a department, too much opportunity for a conflict of interest.
Hernandez wants to know about the $143,000. What are we doing here?
Judge asks where the money comes from.
Patty says we need some hard data. Need to know demand.
County needs to get its act together on the leases so that City of Marfa will contribute. Beebe says that the City of Marfa's request for accountability is totally reasonable, it is the same thing the county is asking of the City of Presidio with regard to EMS funding. Commissioners agree.
White says that no matter what We are on a path to bankruptcy and we have to stop. Judge says ok, we cannot fund this.
Abandoned motor vehicle fund request can be granted, money is still in That fund and is dedicated by statute.
Hernandez says that since we don't have money, what about the proposed raises for staff? We cannot fund those either. Judge says that we can still do the raise, to the tune of three percent or $97,000.
White says can't take that much out of reserves. Says that next year it's going to get worse if this vicious cycle of spending more than we earn does not stop.
Aranda brings up golf course lease. Proposes possibly selling some property out there to raise money and get it back on the tax rolls. One acre of land over there is worth between $7500-$10,000. White says ten thousand an acre is going rate.
County has about 300 acres. Could sell some of it.
Judge says that she has a meeting with Jim Allison, atty for us in that deal, on Wednesday. White says that if you read the lease draft, and understand it then you can make a judgment on it. Hernandez says he would rather sell it. Aranda and White agree.
Patty says we could sell the 300 acres that are not part of the golf course, not the same issue as the golf course itself.
Hernandez says we should revisit whether we want to sell or rent the golf course and additional nearby property.
Vasquez says that people in Marfa will oppose it. White says that a 99 year lease is essentially a sale. Rod Ponton agrees. White says the lease it so tight, we give up everything. White says that what will happen out there is they will mortgage the property with that lease, get the money, and there is no performance bond on that lease. They are not required to do anything at all. Vasquez says that we need to listen to our atty Jim Allison on this. Patty says that the law requires us to bid this project out. Bid must be done, we can't even talk about a lease until then.
Judge has meeting to Jim Allison this Wed at 4:00. White says that everyone needs to read the fine print in this lease.
Hernandez says lets get back to the budget, enough of this.
Aranda says that we can get more money if we sell this land. Patty agrees that there is vacant acreage that could be sold. White says this is good. Talk of getting a mortgage on the property. Rod Ponton says that is very complicated for a County to do.
Patty says that raises are not reversible over time. These are permanent commitments.
Lots of counties are having trouble with this, TAC rep says. Having to cut positions. Rod says that Pecos County has a huge issue with low oil prices and a giant tax rate.
Patty says that raises were last given in 2013. We have not been extravagant.
On the other hand, we still have to pay for whatever we do. Sale of property is a one time affair.
Hernandez says that selling to fund the budget is not a solution. White says that next year it will be the same problem. Need to stop spending. Individuals can control their income streams, but the county is locked in to a set level of income.
Raising taxes is not smart. We have a hugely large tax rate already and businesses are not going to come here with these costs.
Constable Coker brings up giving a bonus at Christmas rather than a raise. Patty says that the county is not permitted to give bonuses. Have to raise salaries or not at all.
Three percent raise costs the County $97,000. Talk of doing something less, or boost by a fixed amount to each employee paycheck. Aranda likes the idea is a fixed amount rather than tying it to a percentage.
Patty says that is a bit more complicated since some employees are salaried, some are hourly, some are part time.
Judge asks if they really want to do this. Silence. Vasquez says he hates to not give it to employees but this is tough. No money.
Advocates for giving raises to employees only, not elected officials.
Impact on budget unknown. No raise for elected officials and dept heads. Patty runs proposed numbers. Hernandez says that if we want to be fair we have to give it to everybody. White says that elected officials knew what the pay was when they ran for office.
Proposal would shave $20,000 off total extra expense. Hernandez says he would rather fund the airports than raises. Aranda says that everyone has to get a raise if any are given at all.
Proposal to give forty five cent per hour pay increase for hourly full time workers. Salaried would get $936 extra.
Aranda makes the motion to grant the three percent increase with everyone getting an equal share. Flat amount.
Workshop only, no motions can be made. Aranda repeats his proposal. Everyone is ok with it.
Elected official salaries must be published minimum ten days in advance of adopting budget.
Talk about JP 2 assistant salaries. Judge Bishop has two part timers. Wants to move one to full time. Commissioners had cut her budget by $6500.
Used to have a total of $27000 and change, same as JP 1, but now has been reduced.
Patty says that nobody has asked her if there can be a change. Need to know costs. Judge Bishop says that she has talked to Marsha, Katie and Cheryl about this. Makes her case.
Patty runs the numbers.
Judge wants 32 hours for full time worker.
Will cost county $3320 to do this.
Hernandez says this is worth it. White asks how much time do we have before we go bankrupt.clerks in JP 2 are paid $8/hr.
Hernandez says we should give Judge Bishop whatever she is asking for. $6500 requested.
End of meeting.
Adjourned at 4:08 PM
Tuesday, September 06, 2016
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Notes from Presidio County Commissioners Court Budget Workshop, August 23rd, 2016, 1:30 PM, Presidio
Here are my notes from this meeting. The air conditioning is out at the County Annex, and the school graciously donated their conference room for this meeting. Many county employees and elected officials were present, as were officials from other agencies.
My analysis is that the commissioners are making progress towards a painful, but realistic budget. County Auditor Patty Roach has been the star here. She is well-prepared and understands the issues and the numbers.
Presidio County Commissioners Court Budget Workshop Meeting 1:30 PM, Presidio I.S.D. Conference Room, Tuesday 8/23/2016
My analysis is that the commissioners are making progress towards a painful, but realistic budget. County Auditor Patty Roach has been the star here. She is well-prepared and understands the issues and the numbers.
Presidio County Commissioners Court Budget Workshop Meeting 1:30 PM, Presidio I.S.D. Conference Room, Tuesday 8/23/2016
Patty puts up a slide on the wall demonstrating our position.
M&O Revenues as of 8/23/16 $3,779.369
M&O Expenditures: (4,257,348)
Transfers to cover shortfalls in other funds: (114,505)
These are totals after rolling back dept funds to last year's levels.
Sheriff has a public comment: he wants to know if the jail renovation needs an actual architect. He would rather only hire an engineer. Judge thanks him for his input. Katie says that statute reads for design/build that there needs to be an architect.
Just a suggestion, Sheriff says.
Announcements: no announcements
Item 6- discussion only budget workshop. Patty says there was an error in estimated revenue on the part of the tax assessor, has been corrected. Reflects an increase of about $225,000.
Most depts have submitted reworked budgets to go back to 2016 levels.
Total shortfall is now $592,484.00
Increased revenue by $225,240
Decreased expenditures $374,351
Constable pct 2 will be added to insurance policy for health, previously not covered.
Reduction in shortfall from last meeting: $643,000
Raise M&O tax by three cents.
Offset from I&S tax rate and move to M&O. We have a small surplus in I&S rate, can move to M&O without triggering rollback.
Current tax rate: .05458. If we reduce to .34 or .44 and move to M&O . One penny off I&S nets $38,640. Could go up to 2 cents (77,280 to M&O)
Two cents still leaves us with a surplus in hand in I&S of $136,314
Six cents still available in tax rate before rollback. Worth about $225,000
Jail reserve fund balance: Hernandez wants to know. Patty says projected is 1.9 million without any transfers or HVAC redo.
Hernandez wants to know what the difference is between taking jail reserves and using I&S funds. Patty says not too much difference but you do not want to deplete your reserves. Says that HVAC replacement at jail is at least a three hundred thousand dollar difference. She does not want to use jail fund to bail out our operating supplies.
She says pipeline revenue at best will not come in until 2019 budget.
Next year we will likely have significant revenue deficit.
Aranda is very concerned that the pipeline revenue will not come in earlier. Says we are counting on money for 2018 budget. He spoke to some folks who are experts in appraisal . Says that pipeline will be appraised in Jan 2017 and anything I the ground or on the ground will be assessed.
By the time it all gets to Norma Arroyo is should be Sept Or Oct 2017. Patty says that she has seen the tax calculation form and New improvements have to be backed out. Norma agrees. New improvements have to be taken out and are not on until the next year. This year was $12,000,000.00 in new improvements. There is a lag.
Aranda provides a paper for Patty to review. Hernandez asks about the chili plant. Says it supposed to be up and running by July of this next year. Norma says there is a lag, same applies. Money from 2017 is collected in 2018.
White says that we can tweak. Go up a bit on tax rate, take some out of reserves, possibly sell some assets, including some land next to the golf course, get it back on the tax rolls, explore selling some other county assets.
Patty says she supposes it could be viable. Timeline may be tricky, plus statutory requirements may need to be met.
Hernandez says that possibly selling some of the land near the golf course could help us pay our bills. Sell land at a good market value.
Vasquez says he would be opposed to selling that land. White says that there are fewer choices when you are broke.
Hernandez clarifies that it would not be the golf course, it is other land nearby the County owns. Vasquez repeats that he is opposed to selling any land.
Hernandez says that selling is better than leasing for $1 for 100 years. What kind of return do we get either side.
Aranda says there is an advantage to putting the land back on the tax rolls.
White says a 100 year lease is essentially a sale. Aranda says he understands but leasing the property still allows the County to tax all the improvements.
Hernandez is advocating selling the land. Says that by leasing it we are essentially giving it away. Sell it we get some cash and additional tax revenue unless the purchaser gets some fancy tax abatements.
Aranda says that if we try to sell the land near the golf course at a high price we risk losing the whole development.
White says the minute we award a lease, these guys can take it to the bank, get a loan on it and and be gone or do nothing.
Hernandez reiterates his question about spending reserves versus spending the surplus in I&S. Patty says that with the I&S you are taking money you are collecting and transferring it to M&O versus taking money out of a sort of savings account from money you earn when coming from reserves.
Patty says that last year transferred about $300,000 from jail fund for FY 2016 and about $100,000 from M&O surplus/reserves.
White says we have six cents we can go up on the tax rate. Each penny on a $100,000 home is ten dollars.
Vasquez asks about jail fund, how much can we take? Roof needs repairs, plus HVAC replacement. Patty says we really need to develop a policy to replace infrastructure every five years, schedule it and have a system so that we can easily predict expenses.
Hernandez is concerned about going up on the taxes too much with jail fund reserves being nearly $2 million. Patty says that is why the five year plan for infrastructure replace/repair is so important. With one we could provide the public with info about future expenses.
Four months of operating expenses is $1.5 million. Need to have that cushion.
Patty further advocates for five year plan. This year so far everyone has rolled back their budgets, cooperating, but still we have a large deficit.
Aranda wants to know more about the tax rate.
Aranda says that every year the tax rate has either stayed the same or np even slightly lowered. That has been his goal. This year is different, we will have to raise, and he is ok with that. But he wants a recommendation from Patty about tax rate.
Patty laughs, says that jail reserves can be tapped this year. Cuts to budget can be made probably about $100,000. Tax rate can go up, adjust the I&S / M&O rates up two cents. Jail reserves are probably the best main short term solution, but not a good long term solution. Can probably handle it this year.
Hernandez is looking at Patty's suggested cuts. He does not necessarily agree.
Reduction of ten percent for outside agencies. Other cuts. She has firm numbers for health insurance discount we earned.
Among other things, cut Sheriff's office reserves, cut temporary labor, cut out PIPA contribution, Presidio Food Pantry cont since does not exist.
Aranda says he would like to go down this list one by one.
White says that PIPA is going to have to be funded some with some seed money. Just getting started. Most important priority in his opinion. City and PMDD are contributing about $16,000.
White very much wants the $12,500 back into PIPA.
Hernandez wants to bring it back up to $16,500, as per last year.
Aranda agrees. Should keep it if we need it. Hernandez pushes for the $16,500 budgets last year. White says that is we have to find it in reserves, we should do it. It is going to return tenfold.
Judge says that CBI funding should cover all this. White says, yes, but we do not have it yet.
Tentative agreement to put $14,850.00 in (10%cut from last year)
Water district: last year $20,000, this year $18,000.00. White asks if we get an accounting on that. Judge says we can get one but we have not gotten anything. White says we must get a report. Some confusion as to whether a report has actually been received. Discussion about what the threshold should be for quarterly or yearly reports.
Presidio EMS: Judge mentions that Mayor of Presidio says that he thinks the city will agree to bill per mile at $22.50. Aranda thinks it will be more expensive doing it that way. Marco Baeza says they would gladly accept that money per mile, it will result in more than $100,000 per year. Judge asks city admin if he is willing to work with her to get better reporting to gather detailed information on ambulance runs.
He says yes, but last month alone county would have had to pay nearly $60,000 to city. Virgie ask about how the City of Presidio is billing their customers. Marco says that in all his years of collecting, you will not get a better collection rate of 35%. Insurance and Medicare pay about $400 for a run that would cost the county $2000.
City admin promises more and better information.
Marco says that is they do not get the grant from the hospital district city may be looking at another $300,000 to budget for EMS since they need a new ambulance. Aranda brings up giving Presidio money from the pipeline when it comes in. Thinks it is a good idea to give them a percentage.
Baeza says that there is no need to duplicate service as far as more ambulance services. He just got word that under new rules his EMT's will fall under the forty hour workweek. Says that he does not believe the City of Marfa may not be following labor law requirements. Judge brings up the $131,000 owed to the County for tax collection owed. Baeza says that this is something we can work on, just an oversight. He says it has never been before the City Council from 2010 onwards and the County has not been able to provide a signed contract. He is not pointing fingers but no need for theses accusations. Judge asks if we are going to meet at 4:00 to discuss this. Beast a says, "I don't think so, Judge."
Discussion regarding leaving Presidio EMS at $100,000. Aranda wants to leave it at that. Same about Marfa EMS. Leave it at $36,000 unless Marfa opts to Bill per mile. Judge suggests this but asks if commissioners want to do this. Hernandez would rather keep the $36,000 and forget the $22.50/mile. Katie mentions that we may not have a choice; it is up to the city to decide.
White wants to leave it the way it is for now and then make a decision later based on what we have. Wants to decide how much we are willing to raise the tax, other monies and then go from there. Jeff Davis County has not even been added in to this budget.
More discussion about Jeff Davis County backing the County up.
Judge suggest budgeting $10,000 for four runs for the year.
If they go over, Sheriff says the jail can cover it.x
White says we can combine the JP offices and cut out JP #1.
Presidio Fire Dept Chief Muniz wants to know why budgets are being cut in the first place. Judge explains deficit. $2,250.00 being proposed to be cut from Fire Dept. Muniz complains that he has not received payment for last quarter. Judge says she hopes to meet with the city of Presidio regarding holding payments since the City owes the County collections monies. Judge agrees, through no fault of his, the county is withholding payments from Presidio based on not receiving a simple or single response from the City of Presidio regarding the money owed to the County.
Aranda clarifies to the Judge that the fire dept has been filing their reports and have not yet received third quarter monies although Marfa Fire dept has. Judge says that until we decide how to deal with City owed monies, we are not making payments. Clarification on debts, it is pointed out to Judge that fire dept is not really part of City of Presidio, they have complied with requirements. Muniz mentions that payments seem to come at different times. Judge is unsure of why things are not standardize, says she needs to get this system more standardized and need a more tight policy with regard to which payments are going out and when.
White says that they are not trying to withhold payment. Judge apologizes. Chief says he is just trying to figure this out. Judge says she will consult with Treasurer. Aranda says that we have budgeted all this money for non-departmental, we should be paying the money when it is expected. Aranda says we need to work out getting paid for the owed monies, but we should not be holding money just because of this other issue. Aranda says we need to work on theses issues and get them sorted out.
Patty says that the city of Presidio has not paid their dispatch contract. There is a signed contract. Also, the City of Presidio has received services from the county and it is no secret. Baeza says that this is an issue of the County not informing the city of any of this. Not even a courtesy letter. White asks if the city would prefer for the County to stop collecting their taxes? Sheriff says that no matter what he will not stop dispatch services regardless of whether or not County is paid for it. It does not matter to him; these are emergency services. This is something we have to have. Judge says she took the initiative yesterday to try to set up a meeting, which is now off at the last minute.
Baeza says that's because nobody knew, not even you, Judge. Judge says that we are finding many more things since our financial team is getting things in order. Officials have been meeting regarding that there has traditionally been no follow up on commissioners court actions. This is changing.
Baeza says he understands, but all of a sudden Presidio is being held to the fire on these issues. Please do not punish the City of Presidio.
Sheriff says that since we reopened the jail, the county has taken about six million dollars for operations. Just to put a value on that service at this point...
White says we don't currently have a budget for the golf course. Patty says, n, that has been added at last year's budget levels.
Hernandez wants to return to the project at hand; going down the lines of non-departmental.
Food Pantries: none for Presidio since their food pantry is not active. Ten percent decrease for Marfa food pantry.
Patty wants to know if commissioners are doing the cut for the two Fire Depts. Commissioners agree not to cut these depts.
No cuts for Libraries at the behest of Jim White. Agreed.
Historical Commission. Cut out entirely.
Child Welfare Board: no cuts for little kids. Commissioners agree.
Child Advocacy Contribution: no cuts.
Health Ins/Retirement: no cuts. Firm number per Auditor
CIP contribution for airports: Chase says there is no CIP project on the books to be funded. Five and ten year plan would be best to put some of that away for the future. Runway improvements will cost about a million over this time. Would like to see county put a few bucks away. Proposed cut of $84,000. Last year budget $109,000, proposed $25,000.
Judge proposes to get leases straightened out, try to get a contribution from the City, possible bond issue later if money is not set aside. Patty says that a bond election could be possible. Debt we have currently is from when jail was built.
Two more years on jail until bond retired, possible to maybe do a bond issuance at that point to keep tax rate I&S in line. White says we still have not decided how much we're really gonna raise through the methods we have.
Patty says the combination of methods we have can make this work. Painful but possible.
Proposed of $25,000 towards airport CIP agreed upon.
Insurance claim repairs: past issue, mostly resolved. Sam Cobos says that approx $2,000 has not been spent. Would like to keep it in the budget.
1,450 M&O portion added back in.
JP Presidio temp labor: proposed cut of $6500 to cut part time labor. Patty says right now nobody is employed in this position. She has two part time, this is merely temporary. Cut.
Parks South: cut temp labor from $9,000 to zero.
Sheriff's Reserves: Sheriff would prefer full-time deputy in South County. Aranda says that they would prefer a full time, it would cut down on the problems with reserves, etc. Sheriff agrees. Says he would like both reserves and a full timer.
White asks Sheriff if an extra deputy would assist in comp time issues, make the dept more flexible. Sheriff says definitely. Hernandez mentions that the pipeline project may impact law enforcement duties. More people from out of town.
Stonegarden would help a lot. Sheriff agrees. White wants to plug in a new deputy. Beebe advocates for using jail emerge funds to help fund this position. Says it makes more sense than any other use, though it may be surprising to hear that from him it is what he thinks.
Judge says that City of Marfa is funding three deputies for Marfa area, County can expect $180,000 payment from the City of Marfa for law enforcement contract.
White says the additional deputy is self serving for the JP. Beebe says South County would be for JP 2. Agreed to put that in for now and see how it goes.
Talk about extra help in financial offices, example being OMB part timer to help with bank statements. Commissioners want to add a category where if any of the financial offices need temp help there will be a line for that. Agreed.
Back to South Parks Labor: $9,000 for last year, this year none budgeted. Hernandez says to cut. Agreed.
After all cuts today from non-dept cuts total $98,965.00
Patty says Virgie has cut an additional $6300 from last year's budget.
OMB cut theirs, Auditor cut hers. County Agent cut by about half since she is leaving.
County Agent savings about $12,000.
Judge announces to commissioners that Patty has requested to move into County Agent's office. On next agenda. Patty says that computer setup could be costly, other than that, not much expense.
Talk about moving offices around, becoming more efficient.
Discussion on tax rate, I&S transfer by two cents to M&O.
Proposed to allow Sheriff to hire two deputies, one for Presidio, one for Marfa (Paid by Marfa).
Patty talks about comp time audit; cooks need to be cut down to forty hours a week to avoid comp time or overtime. Dispatch as well, but it is a bit different.
Bringing these folks down to forty hours will cut their pay by four hours per pay period. Recommends a small raise.
Cooks may have to go home for a bit. Total of three employees. Would require a small raise.
White wants to give a small raise, Aranda agrees.
Dispatch issue: used to work 84 hours per two week pay period. Do not qualify as law enforcement.
Sheriff says that if jail standards walks in they do not qualify as jailers, but have to be certified as jailers. Patty wants to know if the dispatch workers can have their hours rearranged to work a bit fewer hours. Budgeted for five, going to need six to make this work. Double issue, add a jailer, each jailer makes less, need to slightly raise pay.
TAC said that dispatchers are not in the same classification as law enforcement unless they are working as jailers. Not when they are working as dispatch.
Sheriff argues that his dispatchers are actually working jail jobs. Majority of the work is monitoring the jail, phone calls for the jail, monitoring the control panel for the jail.
Katie believes it may be cheaper to pay overtime with just five.
Patty says adding complexities to the payroll system has already been a problem. She has problems with the concept of having separate system for different departments.
Total cost for adding a dispatcher for a year would be about $38,000.
Starting pay is around $13/hr. After time pay rises to $15/hr.
Patty says overtime for a year would cost about $12,000.
Katie says that the dispatch contracts have not been reviewed in years. Dispatch could be raised a bit. Three entities pay: City of Marfa, City of Presidio, Jeff Davis County.m
Hernandez wants to know when dispatch contracts were renegotiated, asks Sheriff.
2009 contracts initiated. Have not been renegotiated.
Says costs have gone up a bit, but not by too much. White says we need to negotiate those contracts.
Aranda wants to keep five ad give them the overtime.
Patty gives some options. White says to pay the. The overtime. Hernandez agrees.
Says also that overtime is based on al hours worked per week, so if one week they work too many, it can cost more. Sheriff agrees, some weeks they work more, other weeks work less.
She recommends getting real numbers together before we decide.
White wants another budget session.
Hernandez agrees. Patty says we can schedule one. Hernandez suggests to have one after the next regular meeting.
Three percent raises thrown out there. Hernandez says let's not talk about that right now.
Budget workshop scheduling discussed. Adoption of tax rate, public hearing, etc.
Adjourn at 4:34 PM
Marfa EMS contribution
Here are my notes for the special (regular) meeting yesterday in Presidio at the County Annex.
Presidio County Commissioners Court Special Regular Meeting, Tuesday August 23rd, 9 AM, Presidio County Annex Building, Presidio.
Presidio County Commissioners Court Special Regular Meeting, Tuesday August 23rd, 9 AM, Presidio County Annex Building, Presidio.
Some people thought the meeting was starting at 9:30, so we are starting a bit late...
Commissioners present: Eloy Aranda, Judge Cinderela Guevara, Loretto Vasquez, Lorenzo Hernandez, Jim White.
Air conditioning in the Annex is not working, Judge is looking to see if PISD will allow commissioners to use their meeting room.
Meeting called to order at 9:40. Judge announces that the budget meeting later today will be moved to the boardroom at PISD admin building.
Larry Lunsford and Jane Walker represent the golf course management group.
Annette Gutierrez from Rio Grande Council of Governments.
Cheryl Calvert: reads a letter from Frances Garcia requesting two new computers for Treasurer's office. Old ones keep shutting off and losing data.
Also requesting funding for mandatory training. $4300 requested for computers and installation.
Jane Walker: golf course. Expresses how much this project needs to be moving forward. She and her husband have built golf courses in the past, communication is a must. She is having a lot of trouble communicating with County Judge and other officials. She is worried that communications are breaking down. She has been able to express concerns with several commissioners who turned her calls. Please do not let this project fall through the cracks. Too many jobs are on the line, please do your best to continue.
Golf course. Addressing lack of communication. June 14 commissioners voted unanimously to explore project and put together a lease agreement.
Since lease was submitted, group has not heard a word.
Atty representing the County, Jim Allison, has not made contact. Citizens have been calling him, but he had no news regarding progress or even communication.
Asking for the County to appoint a point person to deal with the group. Timeline is very important. They are on a tight timeline. Confident that lease agreement can be negotiated without a problem. There will be a push/pull and that's OK.
Knows that County Atty says that nothing can be done before the survey is complete. This is not true. We can definitely try to negotiate other points. Suggesting a special meeting between parties, hash out generals, then wait on the survey.
Hernandez asks if county has a lease agreement. Judge says that she received a lease last week, but she wants to move forward at this point. Judge says she will address his question In her Judge's comments. Lunsford leaves the meeting directly after speaking.
Announcements from Judge and Commissioners:
Judge addresses golf course issues; says now that after nearly two years as of June 8 plans are being developed. Reminds commissioners that on June 14 court signed a letter of intent to move forward.
Next county hired an attorney, Jim Allison, since John Fowlkes wanted to have outside counsel address this situation. Judge makes the point that the County has made progress and has not been trying to hold up the project.
There was a big mix up on the date of a meeting with Mr Lunsford. Two meeting thus far with Judge. One at grocery store Judge called atty. Jim Allison says that nothing can be done before survey is turned in. Mix up on date was re: Sept 19 meeting between parties, confusion between parties. Lunsford thought it was August 19. Golf people showed up Aug 19, Allison was not here, and survey is not complete as it is.
Judge gives a run-down on what occurred when August meeting did not happen as golf group thought it was to happen. Judge met informally with golf group atty last Thursday night. Judge has been advised by Allison not to talk about lease to golf party at this point. Judge met atty, and got to know him but did not discuss lease.
Judge says that under Local Govt Code before a lease is considered County is obligated to publish notice twice in the paper before any lease is awarded. Notice must include a description of a metes and bounds survey. Survey must be completed before publication. When survey is completed the county publishes notice of intent to accept sealed proposals of any lease. Bid bond must be submitted with any proposal. Then commissioners court can accept or reject any lease. Performance bond recommended so that project is guaranteed to be finished. Judge would like for the public to understand that in no way is commissioners court opposed to the development of the golf course, but at the same time the commissioners must protect this asset and that this is a business transaction first. There is a PR side to projects like this, but there is also a legal and practical side to it that commissioners are obligated to protect and do properly. She urges commissioners to be sure this project is done right. Big project like this one should and needs to be done in a careful and considerate manner. We can wait on the survey, we hired a proper attorney, and between now and that time that we can do things properly as to legal requirements we will not communicate with the golf group guarding legal aspects. Judge will send proposed lease to other commissioners today. It is 45 pages. Atty will negotiate lease. Mr Allison is on standby right now in case we need a teleconference call.
Hernandez says that his concern is not with the legal but with the lack of communication. He received many phone calls, had no answers, has not even seen the lease. Feels bad he could not even comment to callers at all.
Judge says that the fact that the meeting was rushed instead of Sept 19th county was not prepared to act or comment. Commissioners would have had more time to prepare. Judge says she likes the idea of having a committee to communicate with golf group, answer questions. She is not trying to avoid meeting with people.
Hernandez wants to know when the county received the lease. Judge says it was either Wednesday or Friday. It was printed and placed onto her desk.
Vasquez wants to know if judge has had a chance to discuss lease with atty. Judge says yes, atty wants to advise commissioners about the generals but first says he wants a survey.
Hernandez asks why Lunsford has a difference of opinion on why we cannot move forward without a survey. Judge says she thinks we need to follow our own attorney's advice instead of a non-attorney from an outside party. Aranda says that we must follow the Texas Local Government Code.
Hernandez says that there are two contradicting stories. Is this a matter of lack of communication.
White says there is no contradiction; the County is bound by the Code. Hernandez agrees but he does not understand why there seems to be a misunderstanding.
Judge says that both attorneys understand what is needed; everything is clear.
Hernandez says that according to the golf group in a meeting on Friday Jim Allison will not return calls, judge will not return calls. Judge says this is untrue. She has not received any calls during the day. Talks about how Virgie came over to get Judge out of her own house for an emergency meeting with golf group. Judge went,did not discuss lease agreement. She has always been open to meeting with Lunsford. The golf group's atty has never called her, this is just untrue.
White says that the golf course is in his precinct, he has never been contacted.
Hernandez says he was playing golf and that's how he met with the group. Met at the golf course and they told him that they had scheduled a meeting with the Judge on Saturday.
Judge says that her phone was not working and atty Allison recommended not discussing any details. Judge did not meet with them that day. Judge says she will continue meeting with them but will not discuss legal issues. She does not appreciate the accusations of a hidden innuendo. They know what they have to do; they have to get that survey done.
Vasquez asks if we can meet with Allison. judge says yes, but it's $200/hr plus travel. We do not need him here unless we are actually getting something done. Vasquez agrees.
Allison is coming into town for Sept 13th for county Judge and commissioners conference at Lajitas. Can schedule a meeting with him at that point.
By that time commissioners will have read the lease.
Hernandez says it is his understanding that White, Fowlkes and the County Judge had a copy of the lease but he did not. White says that Hernandez has it in his email, if he would only check it. Hernandez acknowledges that.
End of topic.
County Auditor wrote a letter to the a city of Presidio to have a meeting regarding payments for services rendered for tax contract and dispatch services contract.
Marco Baeza says it is more than likely that meeting will not happen; they want to consult with their City Attorney. Judge says that is unfortunate, a meeting was scheduled for 4:00 today. She wants to resolve this, disappointed that it may not happen.
No commissioners announcements.
Presentation by Annette Gutierrez on RGCOG solid waste grant contract, etc.
Texas Community Development Program.
Application due Feb 9, 2017. Grant administrator and engineer need to be secured.
This year the floor is $225,000 so not every community will be funded in the two year cycle. Extra points given next time around for communities who do not qualify in a year.
Aranda says that each year this is less and less money. Now it is about $168,000, used to be close to a half million. After admin is paid, there is not much left over for materials and actual progress.
She says she understands and that is why the floor is set higher than before. Federal funds are lower than before, it is tough. Bringing it up to $275,000 and not everyone gets a grant.
Solid waste monies available. Application workshop August 29th at Casner Room in Marfa. Hernandez wants to know if County can get a grant and if they can't use the equipment can they pass it on to cities? Particularly with tires, maybe a trailer to haul them. The cities do the work... Annette says not rally, the surplus funds and other goes to El Paso since they have essentially unlimited needs.
She recommends teaming up with Brewster County on some of these issues.
Grant totals between $5000-$8000.
Hernandez wants to know who applies for these grants. Judge says that she sent info to commissioners, can pursue those grants. Annette says county and city can apply jointly. Judge says our OMB dept should be at that meeting since they handle the grants.
Item 7- CIP grant for Presidio-Lely airport.
Chase Snodgrass presents. Says this is the same process as Marfa airport grant. County has already paid match. State grant requires publication of some policies. Hernandez moves to approve. Unanimous.
Item 8- what further steps need to be taken regarding coming into compliance with grants.
Sheriff asked for this item. Sheriff asks OMB what he needs to do. Katie Sanchez says that he needs to account for an ATV. Sheriff says he will do that today. Katie then says that once everything is accounted for and reassigned, then some other things may come up.
Sheriff says he understands that, wants to know what else. Judge says she has sent a list, includes re-outfitting Dodge with police radio gear, etc. Also Sheriff needs to sign the conflict of interest policy.
Sheriff says he will not address the conflict of interest policy since it is not in the agenda. Judge says that she would like to hear about why this is.
Sheriff says that the law requires that a conflict of interest policy must be on hand, but not necessarily has to have anyone sign it. White say that commissioners court passed that he had to sign. Sheriff says that he is not required. Judge says grant requires it. White asks, "What's the deal? Why can't you get this signed?" Sheriff says he does not have to, no other Sheriff knows about this type of policy. White says that just by refusing to sign it it makes it looks like he has a conflict of interest. Says sheriff is already playing by the rules, why not just sign it? Sheriff declines to respond.
Judge says that another problem is that several vehicles have been loaned out and are not being used for law enforcement. Need to be returned to Sheriff and then maybe county owned vehicles
Aranda wants to know if Sheriff does not sign the conflict of interest policy, what happens with grants. Katie says that since we have a policy saying it needs to be signed, state goes by that. We get in trouble.
Judge says she has the statute re: policy.
She reads the statute to commissioners. County must ensure that no conflict of interest of any person administering grants or receiving grant funds, assets. County policy is it must be signed. State goes by that. Sheriff says he has not heard that, has not seen it, will not sign it.
White wants to know how soon Stonegarden kicks in if we get into compliance. Katie says it is undetermined. Says that sometime in Feb more news may come.
Says we did not apply for 2015 funds, none awarded. 2016 funds may be awarded, will receive in Feb 2017. It is a three year grant. About $800,000 total.
Aranda asks what our deficiencies are at this point.
Judge says that the thermal camera is not accounted for. Katie says she can get that taken care of today. Reinstall equipment on Dodge. Annual audit is being waited on.
Judge says that all vehicles funded by Stonegarden needs to have all vehicles marked with all original equipment in it. Must have all in there, be marked, can only be used to Homeland Security.
White says we need to get vehicle inventory straightened out. Judge asks Sheriff to get with her, treasurer and OMB to come up with a plan to answer monitoring review and also make plans for vehicle redistribution, accountability.
Sheriff says that he will. Vasquez asks if the conflict of interest lack of Sheriff's signature will hurt them. Judge says we can hope it does not, but we know that it is supposed to be submitted. Says that Homeland Security will ultimately decide whether that is a problem.
Hernandez wants to know who we can ask if the Sheriff decides not to sign? Katie says that Pete Lara may be able to help, but no guarantees. Hernandez says he is pretty sure the Sheriff would sign if everyone told him he had to, but do we really need this?
Judge says that even though the money is awarded by the State of Texas, Washington DC provides the funds the state administers. She says that the federal requirements need to be followed and this is one of them.
Hernandez says that if the Sheriff says that no other Sheriff has singed this then why does he?
Judge says she believes that if we know what the rules are, we should be following them. That's what she believes.
White says that if the conflict of interest is not signed, then why would the State not think there is a conflict. Judge asks Sheriff is he is waiting for an attorney general opinion, as he stated before to commissioners. Sheriff says no. Judge says that the are prerequisites for everything we get, we need to follow.
Katie says that regardless the County has a policy that says every employee must sign this. Hernandez says he is concerned that many people are affected by this decision. Judge asks which decision. Hernandez dances around the issue, speaks for a while while not pointing finger at Sheriff, says everything except the obvious re: Sheriff's non-cooperation.
Aranda says he wishes that this issue could be easily resolved. He wishes that Sheriff could see that cooperation and compliance needs to happen. Asks the Sheriff nicely to comply since he is part of the County team. Katie says that thus far she has not had a problem with communication from the Sheriff's Office regarding accounting for grant funded equipment. No further discussion.
Item 9- bid on Presidio County trust property, Lot 12, Block 3, Russell Addition, Presidio. Martin from Perdue is here. Actual value of land is about $4000. There is a condemned structure on the property that will have to be removed. Property is behind the American Legion. Bid is for $5000, Martin recommends selling it to bidder.
Hernandez wants to know more about the property. Martin says that it has been in County trust for a few years. Recommends sale since amount is more than lot value, get it back on tax rolls. Approved
Item 10- EMS monthly financial reports: city of Presidio.
Judge Beebe asks if the reports have been verified by comparing the reports to actual calls to dispatch.
Judge says she is requesting that information, was told that she would have to pay a lot of money for copies, access to sensitive information, possibly several thousand dollars. Has called Austin for clarification on this matter. Says she thought that being emergency management coordinator gave her access. Need to get some clarification.
White says he is concerned about budget process and lack of transparency. Total local of receivables and/or billing to people receiving the services. Zero accents receivable listed, are they even billing? Judge says that Marfa report has all that information, but she believes that City of Presidio does not have the software to account for that. We need to look at future policy with regard to this. She sent an email to the Mayor telling him that the " business as usual" approach is not a viable option this year.
Meeting this afternoon we will be dealing with this. We have so many things to resolve with the a City of Presidio. Our own auditor has questions regarding the balance due from the city regarding tax collection and dispatch funds owed.
Now that 4:00 meeting is probably not taking place, judge will not be able to get back to commissioners with regard to how to resolve this. Tax assessor Norma Arroyo is asking the City of Presidio to pay in advance for future service.
Hernandez asks about City of Marfa's report- is it complete? Yes, says Judge. Hernandez says that to him the City of Presidio's report is not really a report, just more of a description of what they said they did. Judge says she would like for the Sheriff's Office to cooperate in getting more information from the dispatch.
Hernandez says he wants to make sure that commissioners have all the information possible before making any decisions regarding funding different EMS agencies.
Aranda says that with this information her we really don't know what the costs really are. Advocates researching the true cost of mileage, etc county would be on the hook for if county contracts on a per mile basis.
Judge brings up the $131,000 owed and still no response from the City...
Meeting set up for today with the City, now probably not happening. Says Marco Baeza said first that City would reimburse County, but had to consult with Attorney first. Now meeting may not be happening. Auditor says that history shows that City was paying bill, received services, just stopped paying the bills sometime last year.
Judge says she is implementing a system to have scheduled follow up regular agenda items already marked on future agendas.
Hernandez wants to know if we send out any invoices for services. Patty Roach says that to her knowledge we don't send out any invoices. Hernandez questions the County's policy. Patty says the Treasurer keeps track of who pays. Patty recommends that going forward we go ahead and invoice any entities receiving services. Hernandez likes that recommendation.
Judge gives kudos to the auditor for finding that we had not been paid.
Motion to approve financial reports asked for by Judge. Is there one? Aranda says that during this afternoon's budget workshop we should have the city administrator there to ask him to clarify details, or just talk about this situation. Knows that the city wants the county to help them, but they need to help themselves too. Judge says she will cal Eric and the city administrator to see if they can attend and answer questions.
Motion to accept by Judge: White seconds. Unanimous
Item 11- Sheriff's Office monthly financial report:
Hernandez remarks that nearly 3000 calls per month through dispatch is a lot. Sheriff agrees. White makes motion to accept. Unanimous
Item 12- departmental advances and registrations for training:
Discussion about upcoming Lajitas training for commissioners. Motion to approve by Aranda. Patty clarifies that they are also in the bills. Will be dealt with in bills item.
Item 13- line-item transfers:
County Judge for training, district court, money for fuel. Jail $75,000 for salaries for jailers to move to US Marshal transport. Transportation to professional services and communication for Constable pct 1 - $500. Constable 2- $1000 to tires. Several others...
Sheriff asks question about line item transfers: ask about reserve officer funding. Judge clarifies that it was approved the second time around. Sheriff asks if it is a practical matter to micromanage his budget even though it is his budget. Patty Roach says that it is required to go before commissioners court. He says ok, so that is required to micromanage it even though it is within my budget. Is it not called micromanaging. Patty says yes, it is a definite requirement. Sheriff asks if it is the ,saw or what? Patty says that yes, she can provide the statute, but that it is not required in larger counties.
Aranda tells Sheriff that we did not deny funding. Sheriff says thought that during the time commissioners stall, nobody is working. Do they understand? Aranda talks about improved communication, we need it including from you. Judge holds up a a stack of emails she sent to Sheriff and that his responses always say, "Good luck" and nothing else. She cannot force anyone to communicate with me. Sheriff says yes, they all do say that. Judge shows another one where the Sheroff replied, "LMAO" with regard to a sick leave policy for Isidro Garcia. Sheriff says, "yes. That's right."
Aranda is getting riled up. He says that if we do not talk to each their, we cannot face our problems. Every year we face this; if we cannot communicate where are we? Judge asks Aranda if he is accusing her of not communicating. No, says Aranda, goes on about communication.m
Sheriff says this was discussed with two people otherwise.
Whites asks Sheriff how he can respond to an email with "LMAO"? Sheriff says he is not the only one acting this way.
Judge says she is always willing to speak with people. Sheriff says he is not the only one, and that the Sheriff does not go over to talk with her. sheriff stonewalls, says that he does not ever ask her for help. Judge is now mad.
Hernandez says that judge should calm down, that we all need to do a better job communication within the county. Judge says she is not arguing, she is taking care of everyone who comes in, she is communicating. Hernandez says that right now she is not communicating with him in a good way. Judge asks is a response such as "Good luck" is acceptable. Hernandez says that he is just saying that everyone needs to do a better job, this is not productive.
Vasquez asks about line item transfers should probably all go through one place. Like all should go through Patty to commissioners court.
Hernandez asks about the P.O. process. Cheryl explains the process.
Motion to approve: Vasquez. White seconds. Unanimous.
Item 14- bills and expenses:
Patty Roach has some changes to the submitted list. No payments to City of Presidio, pulled them.
County Annex and courthouse, pulled Eagle Pest Control, no amount on invoices.
White asks if the commissioners were not going to do reimbursements anymore. White clarifies, asks why there are reimbursements on the bills? Cheryl says that Coker told her that Katie said he could. White says are we going to follow what we decided to do. Aranda says we will do a what we decided to do. Patty Roach has a comment. she understands the concept, but she thinks that you do not reimburse employees for expenses there are circumstances where a purchase order is not efficient. The commissioners still have total control over reimbursements.
Hernandez asks about approval for reimbursements for expenses? Are they approved beforehand? Patty explains that employees take risk on reimbursements. Sometimes they get an advance, other times they get reimbursements.
White still wants to know if they are going to follow the non-reimbursement policy.
Patty says that she is giving her point of view. Realistically there are situations where it is more costly to issue a purchase order than to do a reimbursement.
Patty explains further expenses related to travel.
Questions regarding David Beebe's travel and training. Receipts provided, reimbursement not guaranteed. Must submit receipts in order to receive any monies, must be budgeted. Beebe explains that he understands that by charging things in advance he takes total risks on not being reimbursed, did submit receipts but still risks not being paid. Patty agrees, commissioners still have the power to refuse reimbursements. Employee takes risk.
Hernandez pushes for reimbursement to Beebe since it is in his budget, it is legitimate expenses. Katie brings up that that is fine for this purpose, but grants have different rules and we have had trouble with reimbursements with the grant funds, it has gotten us into trouble in the past. Very important to remember. Judge says that without a purchase order system it could be possible to have duplicate reimbursed. Purchase orders also help the county's financial team have a better idea of real, active budgets. Hernandez gives example of the school, must have P.O. To get an item, or risk not being reimbursed.
White asks about reimbursements for Constable #2, tires and other supplies, clearly bypassing the P.O. System.
Chase Snodgrass remarks and expounds on the fact he did not know about the policy. Remembers the past policy in the Purchasing Policy about taking your own risk.
Hernandez says that maybe there should be some upper and lower limits on what is permitted.
Patty says let's continue with the bills...
Southwest Border Sheriff's Association bill for Sheriff membership/ training.
Chase had his reimbursement reduced, incomplete receipt.
Jail fund: payment before shipping on an item, treasurer will research.
Judge makes motion of approving all bills as presented minus bills Patty pointed out.
Adjourn at 12:19