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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Notes from Presidio County Commissioners Court meeting Aug 9 2016, 9:00 AM, Marfa

Here are my notes from today's Presidio County Commissioners Court meeting. A reminder: I take notes during the meeting and only review and adjust notes when absolutely necessary, so as not to re-edit conversations, etc to reflect my biases. Please excuse typos and/or some incomplete info, as well as abbreviations or use of first or last names arbitrarily for certain officials and County employees.

Thank you for your interest in local and regional policy! -DB

Presidio County Commissioners Court August 9th, 2016, 9 AM

9:00 convene

Quorum present: Judge Guevara, Jim White, Loretto Vasquez. Not present: Lorenzo Hernandez, Eloy Aranda

Item 4- no public comments

9:04 AM, Lorenzo Hernandez arrives as does Atty John Fowlkes

Judge Guevara's comments: reading a letter to commissioners. Received this letter July 13, Jessie Lea Schneider announces resignation. 
She is leaving to pursue other opportunities.  Husband is a beer judge and has an offer in Oregon. 
9:05 AM, commissioner Aranda arrives
Possible replacement comes from A&M. A&M wants commissioners to vote to reaffirm the position. It will likely take some time to fill position. 
Judge attend RGCOG meeting and has been selected to participate in a new 911 locating system based on geospatial data. As opposed to addresses. 
Kathryn Crumpton in Alpine at old Centennial school building is in charge of 911 addresses. Encouraged to visit her. 
Budget workshop timeline has been delivered via email to commissioners and department heads. 
Hernandez wants to know who decided on the times and dates of the meetings. Judge says that she set them up but commissioners can have input now that proposed meetings can be set. Asks if this was supposed to have gone through commissioners court. Judge says it did not have to go through court, but now commissioners can have input. 
Hernandez has some problems with times of meetings. Some in Presidio are earlier, some in Marfa are in the evening. Why? Judge explains that some of these meetings are scheduled to directly follow commissioners court meetings. 
Judge brings up that Jeff Davis County will be billing for EMS services when they have to cover. Judge wants to attend their meetings and bring info to budget. Federal standard rate is $22/mile for EMS. Jeff Davis EMS director advocating for $15/mile. 
Want to bill the individual who is taken to the hospital but have Presidio County advance the money. Any reimbursements from insurance companies would be reimbursed to us. Judge has done some of her own math on this and thinks it is extremely important to get this right with Jeff Davis County, hope to work together. 
Jeff Davis County will bill Presidio County and City of Presidio. City of Presidio has agreed. Meeting with Teresa Todd today about this. 
City of Marfa covers Valentine because they are closer, Jeff Davis has an interlocal agreement with City of Marfa. Judge talks about how the County is fortunate to have data now that cities are reporting activities re EMS.
More talk about meeting times, locations, citizen access to meetings.
Hernandez he received an email from the Sheriff's Office regarding sick leave pool. Joel Nunez wants to donate hours to another employee (Isidro Garcia). Hernandez wants to know if there is a committee that is in charge of this. Treasurer is in charge of sick leave and all payroll items. 
Committee for that has not yet been formed even though commissioners agreed to convene one. 
Next agenda will need to have an item to form this committee. 
No, actually there is a committee as part of the sick leave policy already. County Treasurer, Judge, Clerk, auditor and Crystal Funke are on committee. Treasurer is director. Hernandez says that is not a good committee in his mind. Only one person from Presidio, nobody from jail or Road and bridge. Judge would like to place an agenda item on next agenda to reappoint a committee with greater representation. 
Vasquez wants to know if there is anything commissioners can do in the meantime. 
Judge agrees this an urgent need. 
Aranda wants to help out long time employee Isidro Garcia, keep him employed and help him with his medical needs. 
Judge mentions that she is having trouble managing every part of the county's business. Treasurer sent emails to all department heads, officials, but employees did not turn everything in. Virgie says everyone was given this, but some dept heads did not get info to their employees. Judge says she will call TAC and research what we can do for Isidro after the sick leave runs out. 32 year employee, retirement benefits, disability need to be looked into.

Item 6- assign  and title vehicles owned by County to City of Presidio- Judge wants to table this item. This is grant-related and Judge made a mistake. White motions to table, Aranda seconds. Unanimous.

Item 7- approve Marfa Airport construction grant. Chase Snodgrass presents. 
Signatures needed. County may be missing a specific workplace policy needed as per grant. Drug and alcohol policy for County may need to be amended. 
County has already paid TXDOT the $80,000 ten percent match, signatures get state's matching ninety percent of $720,000. 
Unanimous approval.

Item 8- Presidio-Lely airport construction grant: budgeted amount was $290,000. Two different material options. Longer lasting solution would be grip-flex for 3-4 times as long as coal tar asphalt. Costs to County would be $10,096.  Fuel sales are larger than expected, budget amendment could be made to improve project. 
TXDOT kicks in additional $30,000 if county puts in the $10,096. 
No effect on 2017 budget. 
White makes motion to approve. Seconded by Hernandez. 
Patty Roach says certain language needed for budget amendment. 
Judge makes motion to confirm auditors certification of increase in budget item. Seconded by White. Unanimous.

Item 9- rental vehicle at Marfa airport. Chase says this was a cold contact. Would like to place a brand new vehicle at airport for himself, with automated rental. Interested in parking fees, etc. will hire someone to clean car. 
Presently Marfa airport allows people to park cars for free under canopy on first come first serve basis. Alpine Auto Rental already leaves cars there sometimes, no fees. 
Commissioners could either let him do it for free or could make arrangements to charge him something. 
John Fowlkes says that this is needed, definitely. 
Alpine charges $125 just to bring a car. Losing airport customers. Recommends to approve, can augment agreement later. White motions to accept for no fee. 
Hernandez wants to know if County could take this on. John says that that has been talked about for years, but nobody has really jumped on it. White says we need to give this guy a chance, we can see how it goes. 
Unanimous.

Item 10- Marfa Airport Development assistance from TXDOT.
FAA inspection pushed this forward a bit. Pavement at airport is failing in certain places. White wants to know if taxiway Bravo is closed. Yes, it is, officially. That is the one in front of Burt Compton's. 
Chase says that the FAA has no law enforcement authority, but they control the grant money. FAA wants that taxiway closed until it is rebuilt. Or taxiway can be removed from airport layout plan. Glider operation is now subject to a closed taxiway as only access to his hangar. 
Proposal is to include reconstruction of that taxiway in airport grant items. 
Requesting assistance from TXDOT to start the process. 
Also, expand parking apron large enough to include enough room for multiple corporate jets. 
FAA believes that TXDOT needs to plan differently for Marfa airport since we have so many planes over the weight limit. 
Chase's proposal also would add an updated airport master plan. 
Vasquez moves to approve. Seconded by Hernandez. Unanimous

Item 11- same item as above but for Presidio airport. Reasons Presidio airport needs to be improved are related to port improvements, including that fact that it is in the center of Northern Mexico. White agrees. 
Chase add updated airport master plan to item. Approved unanimously.

Item 12- emergency purchase to replace convection ovens and range at jail. $7500. 
Budget amendment.
Aranda moves to approve. Unanimous.

Item 13- administrative session- five minute break at 10:31 AM.
Reconvene at 10:44

Internal Auditor: Patty Roach. Says she has worked on cash balance analysis. After bills and payrolls until next commissioners court meeting we will have approx two million dollars in the bank. Jail and general fund combo. 
Norma Arroyo says that collections are very low at this point. 
91% collected this far FY 2016. Tax statements will be sent it forts week of Oct. 
3-4 months of operating budget in reserves. 
Warns against changing dates of budget meetings in case tax hearings need to be scheduled. Hernandez says he is not so concerned with dates of meetings, but more with the times, particularly in Presidio. 

Treasurer's report: submitted in writing. Hernandez says he would prefer reassured be here to present. 
White says we can refuse to accept her report. Hernandez would like to see all elected officials at the meetings to present. Discussion. Hernandez wants to skip to item C
Hernandez repeats that he believes she should be here, especially since the treasurer's office is so important to every part of county business. Judge says that commissioners may need to make a policy requiring attendance for presenting reports. 
Judge mentions that elected officials answer only to themselves and the public; no elected official can force another to do anything. She is disappointed that some do not make the sacrifice for the public interest. 
More discussion between commissioners about the problems the county is having right now with communication between departments and leaders not working together. 

OMB report: Katie Sanchez reports: checks written just under 465,000 dollars. 329,000 needs approval including 261,000 in payroll. 
Bank statements are reconciled through 6/30. General ledger reconciliations were requested by outside auditor. One RAMP grant receipt for reimbursement is missing. 
($1100). From 2014. 
Invoiced TXDOT for grant in the amount of just over $11,000. 
Talk about invoices, PO's and reimbursements prior to Sept 1st. Need to send email to dept heads reminding them of cutoff date.
Aranda says that some of the sheriff's office vehicles are from linebacker grants. Might have confused them with Stonegarden vehicles. Hernandez want to know about policy on vehicles. Atty general has not ruled on grant vehicles. Sheriff had provided some documentation that was referencing AG and grant vehicles. 

County clerk: Virgie Pallarez: county collect 10344.50, retained a
Was just over $8,000. District Clerk collected 1,993.52, retained about 1,200 dollars. 
Judge Guevara wants to know what the caseload is for district. Low caseload, Virgie says. 

Facilities manager: Sam Cobos not here today. Annex in Presidio undergoing major renovations, also Redford center. Report submitted in writing. 

Capital Projects manager: Ruben Carrasco is not here, no report submitted. 

Airports manager: accepted.

Tax Assessor report: Norma Arroyo. Working on rollover for delinquent taxes. Collected about $15,606 for county. Judge brings up additional information regarding tax values. 
Norma says that the values will be dropping from just over 473 million and new is 436 million and change. 37 million lost to new exemptions on electrical infrastructure. Means about a half million dollars less for county. 
Calculation for new effective tax rate will be .772, up about 15 cents. 
Last year was .63804, new .77902
New tax exemptions including the homestead exemption played major role. 
Rolls already certified, taking away exemptions could really put liability on the county. Could be sued for already publishing those exemptions. Too late to do this, Judge says, too risky.
Big problem for the county this year. 
Aranda says exemptions are good, but we did not anticipate as many as have been applied for. 
Patty Roach says that these decisions are going to be ugly. 
Aranda wants to use reserve money in jail fund to offset some of this inequity. 
Patty says that proposed budget rests on adopting the effective tax rate. Leaving the rate where it is leaves a $1.06 million deficit. Budgets per department have gone up, leaving even with effective rate deficit would be approx $600,000. Judge says that dept heads are being conservative in their budgets. Asking for things that they truly need. Does not include raises or new staff. 
Carlos Nieto has a comment: says Presidio school lost a lot of money on a solar farm credit. Has had to make adjustments. Beyond everyone's control. Federal credits. 
Says you may see added value in sale of public lands and likely were not added to rolls. Could see a bounce of money from land state sold. Hernandez says that is likely not very much money. Nieto says anything helps, small or large, and that it will be there for the future as well. 
Talk about exemption amounts. 55 totally disabled people in Presidio County get 100% exemption on homesteads for all agencies. Over one million impact. 
Patty says that using a combination of tactics will have to be used to make the budget happen. 
Nieto brings up future pipeline issues. Maximum value of pipeline will be seen in 2018.  Aranda says that using some reserves this year and can be made up in later years. Patty Roach says that if we do not raise tax rates and lower costs, that is not a proper way to fund. Jail will need a new HVAC system and needs to be funded. She is very wary about dipping into funds we do not already have. Hernandez acknowledges that we will have to raise the tax rate this year, may be able to lower later. 
Exemptions totaled loss to county of $509,000.
Major concern by commissioners about overtaxing people. 

JP 1- report given. $18,594.50 total, retained $11,714.81, disbursed to State $7206.89. 
Also warned commissioners about an angry constituent who was unhappy about notification on a suicide. Judge and constable will be sure people are notified to their own satisfaction in the future. Texas Ranger investigated how Sheriff handled next of kin notification in this case and determined that everything was proper. Effort will be made by Judge's office to be sure people are not angry about this in the future. 

JP2- 10,480 collected for July. 

Marfa EMS- accepted.

Presidio EMS- no report submitted. No action

Jail report: no report. Gracie is not in town.

Sheriff's office: no report. Shanna is out of town.

Judge will call and request reports for, jail and sheriff's office.

AG extension report: in writing, approved

Emergency Management report: Judge has no report. Gary Mitschke reports that the emergency operations facility at the airport we are trying to bring in relies on that taxiway being open. 
Aranda talks about farmers in Presidio valley, they would like to have permission to burn, and would like commissioners court to allow burning despite that one person who burned down phone poles. 
Gary says that they can submit an application and Presidio fire chief can approve. Applications are online on Presidio County website and also in person in Presidio. Burn ban still in effect. Expiring soon. 


Item 14- departmental advances and registrations. None

Item 15- line item transfers: tax office is getting ready to mail out tax statements. 
Capital expenditure for a computer at airport. 
Repairs at county yard in Presidio. 
Office supplies for JP 1. Transportation costs for OMB to Presidio. 
Sheriff's office transfer for reserves requested by Aranda. White says he though that was a one time payment. Aranda says this is just a transfer from suppose to labor within the sheriff's office budget. This is so the reserves can continue to operate. 
White wants to know is we are in compliance so we can go get the Stonegarden grant and get those funds for the reserves. 
Sheriff still has not signed conflict of interest statement. Hernandez is shocked. 
Judge says that commissioners addressed that in executive session last time but Hernandez was not there. This could mess up future grants. More discussion about sheriff not acting in best interest of the county and his own department for unknown reasons. 
All line item transfers approved. Hernandez moves, unanimous. 

Bills and expenses: Patty Roach says the list provided is no longer accurate, and the Treasurer is not here. She will review list to see what is correct. Reviewing list.
Judge moves to skip item for a minute and move to review the minutes of the last meeting. 

Looking at minutes while Patty goes through bills. 
Vasquez moves to approve minutes, seconded by Aranda. Approved unanimously. 

Back to bills.
Judge makes motion to approve bills as presented following review by auditor. Bill for courthouse expenditures from True Value. 
Bill for tech fund expenditure to Beebe omitted because not categorized properly.
Add $135.70 to sheriff's office for services. Several other small bills. 
Seconded by White
 Unanimous.

Adjourn at 12:27 PM








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