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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Notes on Presidio County Commissioners Court meeting Feb 9th, 2016, 9 AM, Marfa

Here are my notes on the meeting, as taken.
Noteworthy in a general sense is Commissioner White turning in his County gas card and County issued truck at the end of the meeting and getting a ride with someone else once it was revealed that grant funded vehicles not reassigned by the granting agency (HSI or DPS) for non law enforcement purposes are being used illegally if not being used for law enforcement purposes. Word is that the situation regarding the grant funded vehicles will be clarified by the overseeing agencies at a meeting on March1st.

Presidio County Commissioners Court 2/9/2016 9AM Marfa

All present

Public Comments:
Barbara Baskin: re: block grant. Will comment later

Oshwanna White Eagle submitted an item for agenda, not approved by a commissioner, will not be presented today. Judge confirms that items not approved by commissioners will not be presented. Regarding item number seventeen. Error, was not approved.
Native American, "sovereign citizen". Judge clarifies that a request must be filed with and approved by a member of commissioners court. White Eagle says that she assumed that she was on the agenda. John Fowlkes clarifies that each agenda item needs a sponsor. Giving her an opportunity to leave the information for inclusion next time. Leaves room. 

Announcements from County Judge
Casa Piedra: inquest. Presidio ambulance called and said it was not their area. Marfa ambulance came. Citizens of Casa Piedra concerned about coverage. Hernandez says it's between the cities. Judge says it is generally understood that Marfa goes to Casa Piedra since it is easier to get there from Marfa. White says that we should maybe give dispatchers better instructions. Judge predicts this issue will come up again.
THSSAA grant. List of deficiencies. Mileage logs not being maintained despite commissioners court edict. Have until March 1st to come up with corrective action plan. Judge says that everyone needs to cooperate and keep mileage logs; it is part of the manual for the grant programs. Aranda wants to know if every County vehicle I going to be included. OMB officers say that all county vehicles must have logs. 

Conflict of interest policies must be completed and turned in immediately. All dept heads. Passed by commissioners court and was due last month.

Candelaria water issue: citizens of Candelaria need to have a vote on the issue, and then Stormy needs to go to El Paso to take his class for the Class D license. People down there are interfering with Stormy's work on the chlorination system. People are clipping the lock, breaking in and adding extra chlorine. Hernandez says they know who is doing it, deputy says that he feels there is some general dispute regarding water system supervision. Judge wants to have a meeting down there.

Commissioners announcements: None

Executive Session: real estate issues. Convene into executive session at 9:20.

Reconvene into regular session at 9:38 AM
Action regarding possible land sale item 6 (see agenda for description)
Judge makes a motion to deed the property to Jeff Fort contingent on paying four years of back taxes. Motion carries. Unanimous.

Item 7- excess phone lines billed to County. Katie Sanchez presents.
List of phone lines includes lines for multiple departments, land lines, fax lines, cell phones, phone allowances, jet packs for Sheriff's Office for CopSync. Inactive CopSync feature since although lines activated, no CopSync corresponding equipment has been installed in Sheriff's Office cars.
Four employees get cell phone allowances. $30/month. One commissioner, south Constable, county clerk, and county AG agent.
Katie recommends cutting ten land lines. She says most offices have one fax and one main line. Sheriff's office has more, some affiliated with 911. 
Judge Bishop has an Internet and land line at her home paid for by County so she can access to work items. Hernandez says she should pay for her own internet per month. Paid for out of technology fund for JP 2. Cut judge's IPad phone access for tethering. 
Treasurer's Office has been researching long distance charges. Progress made. 
Possible long term contract issues. Katie speaks about using cell phones for long distance, since it is free. White says that he has talked to Big Bend Telephone and they are moving forward with plans to serve County. Will be making presentation. Judge says that if County decides to go with Big Bend Telephone they can have us set up and going by May. Katie says that ATT contract would be one year contract. 
Hernandez asks about doing away with land lines and moving long distance to cell phones. Multiple issues with land lines, land lines more secure, according to County Atty. There are certain requirements legally. Katie says there are ten lines that can be eliminated right now. 
Hernandez brings up JP 2 home internet. It is paid out of dedicated JP tech fund. Judge Guevara questions home usage. Commissioners generally agree.
Hernandez wants to wait on signing up for new contracts until situation with Big Bend Telephone is clarified. Fowlkes mentions that Big Bend Telephone internet is close to 20 times faster (100 MB) than what we have.
Virgie Pallarez asks about getting a cell phone and using it for long distance and eliminating a land line. Some discussion. Judge wants to wait on what Big Bend a telephone tells the County. Judge makes motion to disconnect ten phone lines as described by OMB.

Item 8- requires commissioners court approval before dept heads can modify any utility, phone agreements.

Item 9- executive session- not happening, judge explains that exec session not necessary as per statutes. Makes motion to stay in open court. Approved. TCDBG
Redford Water Supply Corporation. Water facility improvement came Norwich. Proposal from Grantworks. Jerry Carvahal is here. Engineering services proposal. 
Six admin firms had been contacted for proposal requests as per grant requirements. Was also advertised in paper. Questions from Jim White about notification to firms. Apparently not satisfied with having only one submission. Firms were notified by email by judge's clerk Crystal Funke. 
Patty Roach clarifies that county purchasing policy requires that contract bidding process goes through OMB. Carvahal says this is not for construction, just engineering. Goes through how prices has been in the past and how the grant requires it. 
Patty says that an Request for Proposal should have been sent out marked as such and should have come before commissioners court before being advertised. This is likely a requirement that has not been followed in the past and the county's purchasing policy now says this is the way it has to be done. Nobody is necessarily to blame. 
Jerry C says that this has not been brought before commissioners and has not been in the last three years, since the policy has been adopted.
Aranda says that commissioners want to do this the right way. Carvahal says that the only thing that wasn't done here was that commissioners did not approve the RFP.
Two proposals wee received, one from Grantworks and one from Ramon Carrasco. 
Patty wants to know who was on the proposal review committee. Answer is commissioners court. Has not reviewed this one proposal. Patty says that if there is even just one proposal the committee needs to review it.
Fowlkes says that more firms can be contacted I case the County wants more proposals to review. 
Patty says that the review proposal that was received after the due date cannot be accepted (Carrasco's). 
Aranda would like this to be considered next meeting. There are due dates involved for the project as a whole. One more month is probably OK to wait. Try to receive more proposals, review this properly.
Patty says that state requirements are minimum, but is County policy is more stringent, commissioners has to go with the more strict requirements. She has an overall concern about the County following the words of the adopted purchasing policy on a consistent basis. 
White wants to call a special meeting do that the project can get started. The work needs to be done. Aranda agrees. Carvahal has no problem making a special meeting. 
General agreement among commissioners. More proposals require county to re-advertise, start process over again. How much time will this take? Need to place ad today for this week's paper, at least ten days to process proposals. Judge says there is enough time, Carvahal not sure. Talk about paper's deadline. 
Fowlkes says that following the policy is extremely important. Patty is becoming the enforcer on commissioners' passed resolutions. Not totally fair to auditor. Commissioners should follow their own requirements without needing auditor to enforce it on them. Commissioners state that they are happy about having a check and balance on them. White and Hernandez agree that they need to be corrected at times, and they are grateful. Patty stresses that commissioners are going to need to get more familiar with adopted County policy regarding purchases and other items.
Patty discusses the general process of scoring grant proposals. 
Fowlkes says that Carvahal has helped educate County on the process, but now County and OMB need to run the process themselves. Patty agrees. 
Patty recommends tabling item and restarting process. Talk about advertisement wording, dates. Procurement of engineering piece of contract must be completed by March so that environmental reviews, other state requirements can be met by overall deadline. Further discussion regarding scoring sheets, committee, etc.
Motion to table made by Aranda. Unanimous. Process will start over again.
Barbara Baskin here with comment, called on by Judge Guevara.
Barbara says she is providing information from people including herself and her neighbors about effects of project. She requests notification about project when it begins. She says they have had a problem with the engineering firms selected in the past. Refers to a supposed "list of three" engineers that can be approved by commissioners. She sees a cozy relationship between state regulators and engineers, and also between county and Grantworks, Ramon Carrasco. Jerry intervenes with a comment denying involvement in a particular project.
Baskin says that at this point they are receiving damage to properties from the last county grant project. Lots of work to repair damage by rains and still cannot find why certain roadwork along waterways was done. She requests that the County selects someone to come look at the work done and evaluate the situation. Destruction to habitat, waterways. Would like continued and greater communication between county and parties. Says that their executive secretary for their water group does not share much info. More stories, etc...
Ramps put in for roadways have blocked eszekias. Virgie Pallarez gives Baskin one minute notice. She continues. Baskin advocates for more checks and balances in grant project admin. Time called by Judge.

Item 10-12 related to tabled item 9. Tabled.

Item 13- Burn Ban order. Gary Mitschke presents. Shows conditions of fuel on ground. Says that it is at the highest level. Comparable to the worst on record, Rock House Fire year of 2010. Weather conditions such as temp and wind put county into extreme risk currently. White says he has no doubt ban is needed. Talks about agricultural burns in Presidio Valley. Gary says valley is exempt from contacting county about burns. 
Rest of county must contact county to inform of controlled burns. 
Gary would like Presidio Valley to make clear match with Presidio Fire Dept notification of burns. White disagrees, says that farmers in the valley are responsible and they have been doing this for 300 years and have no troubles. Gary says this is really for informational exchange. White wants to remove the stipulation of requiring Presidio Valley contacting. Gary doesn't fight it hard. Hernandez clarifies that this is really just for informing the FD of fires, not to regulate AG burning. Gary says yes. Aranda asks more about that, wants to be sure nobody would be denied burning for agriculture.
Says as long as there is not regulatory power, he has no problem. White agrees. 
White sees no potential in Presidio for a huge fire. Doesn't necessarily have a problem with farmers making a call. Loretto Vasquez chimes in with a general agreement.
Ban to be effective today, Feb 9. Will last 90 days. White makes motion to adopt but that farmers in Presidio Valley not prohibited but only need to call fire chief in Presidio to inform of agricultural burns. Seconded by Vasquez. 
Unanimous.
 Five minute break at 11:06 AM
Reconvene at 11:27 AM

Skipping to item 27-
Executive session regarding contract airports management with Big Bend Flight Support. No executive session as per local govt code. Motion to deliberate in open court. Motion carries.
Contract proposal from Big Bend Flight Support.
Auditor speaks referencing purchasing policy.
Says that this is over $50,000, must be bid in formal bidding process.
Must be advertised, RFP issued, etc.
Chase Snodgrass speaks. 
Says that it has been advertised properly twice in the past. Has documents to support this. Dates are Oct 2013 and May 2014.
Aranda asks to table. Aranda asks about commissioners court involvement regarding past advertisements. Chase as he does not recall exact details. 
White says either way court will have to table item. Says there is a out to this, commissioners are not likely prepared to move on this thing. Needs auditor input. 
Auditor brings up that ads were for FBO and contract is for manager.
Chase says his proposal is for above and beyond requirements of an FBO. Patty brings up potential conflict of interest in that county employee who manages the process of advertising and writing up proposal being the bidder. 
Fowlkes says that there hasn't been a vote to decide that contractual management of airports management is what the county wants. After that is decided or not decided then advertising and RFPs issued. He doesn't know of this ever being decided. 
Hernandez asks about Hugh Howard's contract. Fowlkes says that Howard's contract was canceled and airport manager (county employee) controlled fuel sales. County does it in house. 
Foelkes says that this contact has many differences from Howard's old contract that was canceled. This contract is different. If commissioners want to we can go line by line. Or to table since this has not even been decided to pursue a proposal. 
Patty Roach says that regardless she feels that decision has not been made. Fowlkes says old ads are completely insufficient. Patty Roach says that conflict of interest is inherent.
Chase asks for confidentiality. Fowlkes says that only if County is put into a position of detriment then confidentiality applies. Says this is not a traditional FBO contract. Chase agrees.
Patty says that if everyone agrees that this is not a traditional FBO contract then new RFP and advertising needs to reflect this.
Hernandez recommends that airport manager recommend a route. Is this a great conflict? 
Patty says that she will have to review the policy.
Fowlkes says that inherently Chase has a conflict since he is the current airports manager, grossly, inherently. Even bringing this up shows the inherent conflict. 
Judge Guevara makes a motion to table. 
Patty says that tabling doesn't address that the commissioners have not even presented that they are looking for this type of agreement. 
Fowlkes says that in addition to even asking for this, the County will need to delineate what type of parameters would need to to met to turn over the county's assets and exclusive access to fuel sales, airport facilities. This is a hugely valuable asset, and there are multiple issues. Proposals, requests for proposals should have guidelines to attract bidders and make stipulations and requirements clear. 
Aranda talks about the past, how the county made very little money.
White asks if the Tim should be tabled or no action. Hernandez is concerned that no action taken could make this not come up again. Judge says that new item or same item could be placed on a future agenda. White says that purchasing policy and conflict of interest policy need to be consulted. Fowlkes questions whether county wants to give up revenue to have someone else run airports. 
White makes motion for no action. 
Aranda brings up conflict of interest policy. We need to stick with it and also with purchasing policy.
Unanimous.

Item 14- executive session re: sealed bid for property in Presidio at 1500 Anderson. 
No executive session. Sealed bid.
Open session. White says that he though commissioners had agreed to hold on to that property until development around the area shows whether the county has a better use. Motion for no action by White, unanimous.

Item 15- Total ID Solutions for technical support contract. Been in use for employee IDs and school IDs through sheriff's office. At jail and for school children. Tech support renewed yearly. White makes motion, unanimous.

Item 16- Dome visitation hours. Judge makes motion for no action. Unanimous.

Item 17- motion for no action, proper procedure placing on agenda not taken. Unanimous.

Item 18- discussion with action to approve certification of me funds and increase county expenditure budget for maintenance projects.
Patty presents and recommends action to increase budget for projects that were not budgeted. Insurance funds received and unbudgeted will cover expenses. 
White makes motion to approve. Seconded by Hernandez. Unanimous 

Item 19- vending machine income for Coke machine at courthouse to be added to budget. Last year funds were deposited. No reflection in budget. Approx $2000 in and out per year. Money will go into vending machine fund. Small profit goes into general fund. Hernandez suggests spending budget items on a party or something. Frances Garcia says the money made is so small that it won't even pay for a party. Profit of $7/case. Not much money. Judge makes motion to approve as presented. 
Unanimous

Item 20- payment to Horton Stack Door Company.
Patty presents. Door for airport hangar. 20% down payment already paid to vendor.
Payment due within five days of receipt and acceptance of doors. Wants approval with a not to exceed amount so when doors show up will not need a special meeting to approve. White asks what exactly she wants. Patty Repeats.  Aranda makes motion. $14,885.00 unanimous

Item 21-  payment from jail fund to "Correct Solutions" invoice for $800. 
Last year's invoice was paid out of jail fund, should be paid out of sheriff's commissary fund. Patty recommends that commissioners court direct sheriff's office to cut. Check from commissary fund to jail fund to correct. Unanimous.

Item 22- Interlocal law enforcement agreement between Presidio County and City of Marfa. Same as previous contract except sheriff's office will need to enforce more 
ordinances. 
White brings up that contract requires activity and financial reports to City of Marfa. Says that city has not received reports, county never receives reports. Wants to be sure that if contract is agreed to that reports are given. Pointless to enter into a contract that is not enforced. Judge says she has not talked to Sheriff about this. Sheriff not here, no representative from Sheriff's office here to speak on this. Commissioners unsure of whether Sheriff has even seen the contract. Judge says she doesn't know. Aranda agrees that anything in the contract should be enforced, including financial reports. 
Aranda asks whether Sheriff has seen the contract. Unknown. Vasquez makes motion to table until Sheriff approves, agrees that all stipulations of contract need to be followed if agreement is reached.

Item 23- long distance phone logs to be submitted monthly to treasurer. Judge says she believes some abuse has taken place. Judge has followed up on this and fund abuses exists. To deter abuse, phone logs will need to be kept. Dept heads and employees will be responsible for phone calls, authorizing phone calls. 
Frances Garcia says a lot of long phone calls are being made and they are personal in nature. Repeat offenses. 
Coming from certain offices.
Virgie wants to know how this log is supposed to work. 
Judge says she has examples and recommendations. Gives examples.
Vasquez wants to know about realistic compliance. Judge says at least we can know.
Only for long distance, not for local calls. Bills have been up to $2800 per month.
Discussion between commissioners.
Vasquez asks about a cell phone for each office and block long distance from land lines. Back to issue of research on Big Bend Telephone. In the meantime, commissioners support phone logs for long distance.
Hernandez wants to know what consequences would be for no log. Asks Frances. She does not know. Asking John Fowlkes. Fowlkes says it's not technically stealing unless very specific wording is adopted. Patty says that it is helpful for audit purposes. Maybe not enforceable technically, but provides a check at least. Patty says maybe there is not a consequence right now but it can have results nonetheless. It is a deterrent.
Consider consequences once first step here is taken if violations occur. 
Judge makes motion effective immediately, by the fifth of the month. Unanimous.

Item 24- 
Approve hiring of personnel for maintenance worker. Executive session at 12:15 PM. Facilities manager Sam Cobos present for session.
Reconvene into open session at 12:48 PM.
Cobos wants to hire Caesar Quintana for position. Approved

Item 25- courthouse janitorial position. Currently temporary and part time, Sam Cobos requesting to have budget increased to full time and permanent. Katie says it is not an emergency, not able to amend budget unless permanent. Fences wants to know is he has anyone in mind. No, says Cobos. Frances says that Sam says position has to be advertised, but other position just approved was not advertised. Fair? John says positions do not have to be advertised, but being fair is best. Sam says position had been advertised weeks back and no applicants. Luckily found some folks anyway.
Judge motions to keep it at temporary part time basis. Unanimous.

Item 26- water well at Presidio airport. Chase presents that there is no water there, only a tank he provided. Water wells are listed as eligible for RAMP grants. PMDD met and budgeted to pay half the local match. Fifty percent would be paid by TXDOT grant. Espy Howard says he can drill, hit water. Costs would be within budget, but there is a risk of dry hole.  $47,000+ for large casing drill. Does not include pump. 
$12,500 out to county. 400 feet deep well recommended. 6 5/8 and 8 5/8 width. 
White wants to know how deep Chase is willing to go. Sometimes water is less deep, sometimes deeper, costs vary.
White recommends drilling well and hopes that water could serve other entities near there for other customers. White says you can drill its smaller bit, ring it if need be.
Vasquez asks about wells drilled nearby. Chase says that some wells have been drilled and are operational. Not many. Rio Grande river aquifers extend approx ten miles from river banks in varying formations. White says it's risky, very. But if you hit water it will be well worth it, says risk is worth it. Aranda says that there are functioning windmills nearby, good drinking water. White recommends stopping drilling at first good water.
Patty says that this is close to $50,000 total price, which is cap, regardless of who pays, for bid process. Be careful. White says there are many variables so it's hard to predict. White says that Chase can go ahead and put it out for bid. County does not have to take lowest bid, but process is required if project exceeds $50,000. Pump is separate project. Well casing begins at sand level, about 210 feet down. 
White says that you should not be limited to a specific depth. Sole source specification discussed to avoid bid process. Chase says Espy Howard is only driller who wants to drill this well. Skinner says he does not want to do it, does not have the right equipment. Discussion regarding bid specifications... Residential well would be sufficient for airport alone. 20 gallons/minute more than enough. Patty recommends motion to proceed with bid process. Judge moves to approve bid process. Will come back to commissioners court after RFP settled on. Seconded by Hernandez. Unanimous.

Item 27- already covered

Item 28- reassign vehicles to other county departments. Judge says that county has to contact state first for any grant funded law enforcement vehicles. State has check on that. State will reassign, or if they do not need it then commissioners court can do it. 
White asks about reassigning a vehicle which has already been reassigned. Discussion as to whether that has ever been done properly. Referencing single audit. Judge says that she sat down with reps from state and was given specific instructions regarding any and all grant funded law enforcement vehicles. Katie Sanchez says county will have to go back and do that process correctly.
White wants to discuss the trucks that are obviously not being used by law enforcement, including command center van. Judge says that the county can't necessarily say that the vehicles will not be needed. White wants to know if the truck he drives can be reassigned. Katie says that the process will have to be redone regardless of who is driving it. Says that all those vehicles are still on the grant funded list. Aranda wants to know process. Do commissioners have to talk to Sheriff to see which ones they are "using" and which are not being used. State can reassign vehicles to other counties that may need law enforcement vehicles. 
White asks if he is driving his county issued truck illegally. Judge says that this has come up recently, she is putting county on notice. Yes, if trucks were not reassigned by state to commissioned they are driving trucks illegally. Judge needs to make a written request to state to reassign to county. 
Aranda discusses the way Sheriff used to assign vehicles after two years to various people. Katie says that Stonegarden grants work differently. White asks about me truck last year Sheriff bought without permission from general fund. Can it be reassigned? Yes, says Katie.
Aranda says that they can reassign any non grant funded trucks to county. White says he wants to reassign that brand new truck today. Hernandez wants to know of there is a list as to where all the vehicles came from. Katie says most came from Stonegarden. 
Stonegarden trucks have a plaque inside the door stating they came from HSI. 
March 1st report to HSI and DPS is due.
White makes motion to have a list of these vehicles and where they came from so that we know what we can and can't do by next meeting. Loretto agrees. OMB and Treasurer make list of different categories of grant funded vehicles including general fund vehicles and how they are being used. Re-states motion as such. Unanimous.

Administrative Session- White makes motion to approve all reports from "A to R"
Judge disagrees. Do not have tax assessor report because month has not been closed out yet. Table tax assessor report. Want to hear auditor's report. No activity report from Presidio EMS despite writing a letter asking them to submit a report. Aranda says there has been some confusion, this time they only sent a financial report, not an activity report. Need to send both, Marfa EMS sends both. Judge does not want to approve that report. 
Auditor says she has already presented, for the most part. 
Approve "A through R" with exceptions. 

Jail Report- Gracie Parras, jail administrator presents. 
Pop. 78 currently. 72 Feds, 2 Jeff Davis Co.
Says that repairs have been mostly completed but constant issues. Jail standards came Jan 29 to inspect. In compliance.
Vasquez says he is constantly concerned about having a regular maintenance person. Gracie says she has advertised for maintenance permission, no responses. 
Jail transport- Gracie says that everyone is doing it. She and Sgt Fox often have to do it. White asks about who watches jail when top two people are running prisoners. Gracie says there are two people on the floor. What about emergencies? She says they have to handle it.
Vasquez asks about compensation for running prisoners. The marshal time is better paying. She says that people, including herself, clock t of county time and clock in on marshal time. If not on county clock, they clock in on marshal time. 
Grace says she is three short on jailers. $15 hour, no applicants because people don't want to work night shift. Gary Mitschke asks about dispatchers. Just hired two more. Up to date on employees for dispatch service. Judge asks about meals during transport. County pays meals. Patty says that marshals do not pay employees directly, county pays employees and marshals reimburse pay and mileage. Month of Jan just over $141,000 billed to marshals. Hernandez wants to know what the inmate count for breaking even is. She says less than 45 is not optimal. Trend is upward right now. Report finished.

Judge makes motion to approve all reports A through R. Unanimous

Item 30-
Line item transfers:
Uniforms for PISD police part time Sheriff's Office employees. From abandoned motor vehicle fund. From fuel to Misc in Sheriff's Office. For membership dues.

White motions to approve. Unanimous
Katie Sanchez says that form for reporting for outside entities does not work for inside entities. Need a form for financial reporting for in house parties.
Commissioner White turns in his county gas card to Frances Garcia. Does not want it or his county issued truck.

Item 31-Bills and expenses:
Hernandez makes motion to approve bills. Unanimous.

Item 32- approve minutes from previous meetings. Jan 12, 26
Motion to approve made by White. Seconded by Vasquez. Unanimous

Item 33- Adjourn. Judge thanks assistant Crystal Funke for helping with meetings, documents, lunch, etc. Applause.
Adjourned at 1:49 PM











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