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Friday, October 14, 2016

Notes on Presidio County Commissioners Court Meeting 09-27-2016, 10:00 AM, Presidio County Courthouse, Marfa

Here are my notes from this meeting, which also functioned as the final public hearing on the new tax rate for 2017 and as the final discussion and passage of the 2017 County Budget.

Presidio County Commissioners Court Budget and Special meeting, September 27th 2016, Presidio County Courthouse, 10 AM, Marfa

All commissioners present

Meeting convened at 10:14 AM

Public comments:
Marco Baeza: jail custodian. Talks about damages to the parapet on the jail. Proposing that he can do that job himself with the help of the trustys. Could save the county thousands of dollars. Judge thanks him for the offer, says it will be on a future agenda.

Announcements from Judge: judge says jail was inspected last week and the staff received very high marks from the inspector. Jail passed and compliments were given to the staff and the improved maintenance. Commends Marco for fixing things, everything is working perfectly. Judge thanks Gracie and the entire jail staff for a great job done. 
Judge met with jail committee to look at roof. Leaking down the walls. Chiles Terry roofing was also there. Going to put more sealant. Roof is still under warranty. The parapet is not covered. Estimate for parapet is more than $8000 but Marco could do it for less. 
Judge says she forgot to put an item on the agenda regarding cutoff times for putting something on the agenda. Wants to make it Wed afternoon. Gives Crystal more time to get emails to commissioners. 

Commissioners announcements: none

Item 6- second public hearing regarding budget and tax rate:
Auditor Patty Roach is present to discuss.
She says that as it stands new budget includes raises, two new deputies and overtime for dispatch. What has changed since the last meeting is the addition of the raises. Airport additional funding for staff and RAMP grant increase as well. 
Most likely county will need to fund these improvements through jail reserves. 
Potential cuts come from eliminating reserve deputies and decreasing expenditures for Capital Projects. $10,785 from reserve deputy funding, $22,012 cut from capital projects.
Aranda advocates for not cutting capital projects budget. Says that Ruben Carrasco is very frugal and could have spent that extra money, might need it. Hernandez and White completely agree that things are not predictable with regard to road and bridge monies and we could need it. Just because we did not spend it doe not mean it might not be needed. Commissioners agree. Patty says she understands, but is just looking for money available. 
Aranda asks whether Patty knows how much money was not spent in FY 2016. She says she is hoping for that number soon, but does not have it. Estimates it could be around one million in reserves, but has to close out bills. 
Hernandez says he would rather not defund the reserve deputies. White says that the extra funding for the two deputies should eliminate the need for reserves. That is the whole reason for the new funding. Hernandez says that he is concerned about the people coming in to work the pipeline, the Sheriff's office will need more help. 
Aranda says that he talked to Joel Nunez and he says he can make up this money by having reserves make up this money by issuing more citations to keep reserves. Aranda says he agrees with Hernandez. Says he has Joel here today to speak on this. 
Joel Nunez says that he wants to explain the situation. Right now only two deputies, each is responsible for 84 hours per week. The way it is now many areas are not covered. With the reserves there is more flexibility to cover the remote areas. Says that the reserves have been funded through Stonegarden in the past to cover this. 
Reserves would allow the south county sheriff's office to respond to every call, if things are happening at once. Says that there is so much traffic on Fridays that one reserve alone wrote 10,000 dollars of citations without really trying hard in one day. We can make up the cost through issuing tickets. We want to be able to say we have more than one deputy. Border Patrol assists, but they are not peace officers and cannot respond to serious crimes. Having a reserve deputy on call is a lot better for the community. Yes, adding a third deputy will help, but we still have over forty hours per week per deputy to cover. 
White says that every time you request things and we give it to you, you are not satisfied with it. You come back and ask for more and more. Joel responds that yes, he is asking for more but he is offering to cut the 20,000 in reserve deputy funding to ten thousand. 
Judge asks about the city of Presidio police. Joel says that the city police have their own duties. Hernandez asks how many deputies are in Marfa. Five, says Joel, including Sheriff. There will be three in Presidio, we need backup, he would like to have someone to call. This will help the community. We have 108 miles of River to cover, he is sorry he is unable to cover it all in a flash. Other agencies help them, but the responsibility for law enforcement ultimately lies with Presidio County and the Sheriff's office. He just wants the ten thousand dollars for reserves. Says he is happy to answer any questions. 
Vasquez says that there is a lot of area to cover, he feels like they need to have it available. Hernandez says that they can make this money back, he feels it should be there. Judge asks Patty what the effect of this is. Patty says it requires spending mor out of reserves. 
Vasquez asks about Stonegarden. Katie says the earliest to receive funds could be Feb. Result would be $292,519.00 spent out of jail reserves for this budget.
Hernandez says he disagrees with White, says to add reserve budget of ten thousand. 
Aranda calls Ruben Carrasco up to talk about Captial Projects spending and proposal to reduce his budget. Aranda asks him to explain why he has not spent the extra money in the budget. White says we don't know what the weather is going to be, we need to keep this money in. Carrasco says we have not competed the Cibolo levee cleanup project, which is required by the Army Corps of Engineers. This year we need to complete it. Must be clean. 
Portion of the levee is within the City of Presidio, they do not always keep it clean and we may need to help to avoid a flood, maintain access for law enforcement. 
Says that most of the equipment that the county has is very old. Some of it is at the end of its life. Have been doing less work on the levee to preserve the equipment. 
Hernandez wants to maintain the funding. Aranda agrees. 
Patty Roach says that despite the fact we are spending out of reserves, it is true that in the past three years we are spending less out of reserves. Trending towards better fiscal management. Down from over a half million to just under $300,000. 
Aranda says he is happy about that, he thanks the financial team. White says it is still not sustainable.
Judge opens up public comment on the budget and tax rate.
White asks the Judge about our tax rate, how does it compare to other counties. Judge says she does not know. Beebe says it is very high, one of the highest. 
Discussion about oil dependent Counties having to cut their employees, etc. 
Hernandez advocates for more economic development. White says that the high tax rate discourages investment. Aranda says that except for this year commissioners have lowered tax rate by a few pennies every year. Tax exemptions for elderly, homestead, will help people out a lot. 
Judge asks for more input. None. 
Public hearing closed. 

Item 7: approve tax rate and budget:
Hernandez moves to accept the tax rate, seconded by Aranda. Vote of record needed. 
All commissioners vote in favor individually. Unanimous. .67804 
Budget: commissioner Aranda moves to add sheriff's office reserve of $10,000 plus the FICA, $10,765.00. Moves to adopt the proposed budget with that addition. 
Seconded by Vasquez. 
Vote: unanimous. 
Aranda thanks everyone, as does Hernandez. Aranda says he is glad for the small pay increase for employees. 



Item 8:  Setting Commissioners Court Scheduled Meetings: Judge brings up changing submission dates for agenda items. Will be added to a future agenda. 
Judge proposes to meet on Mondays instead of Tuesdays. White says that's good. 
Hernandez says that Mondays are not good for him. Talks about time to prepare for the meetings. Discussion. 
Judge brings up that main courtroom is rarely available for larger meetings on Tuesdays. Hernandez says that is true. Talk about agendas and posting requirements. 
Aranda makes a motion to have them on the same Tuesdays at 9:30
October meeting will be on a Wednesday.  
Unanimous

Item 9: County holiday schedule: proposed is same number of days as in past. White motions to approve. Unanimous

Item 10: 
Require annual reports only for entities that receive less than $5000. Unanimous.

Item 11: Electricity contract with Texas Energy. Bob Hamilton with Texas Energy out of Waco. Broker for entities for the State of Texas. Client base includes TXDOT, TDCJ. 
Re: Presidio County. Ha an "action plan"
Been working with Cheryl Calvert and Frances Garcia. Currently have 42 meters with a contract expiring soon. Meter audit shows energy rate 308,890 at .04599 cents, 423,000 at .045. Avg rate .04922 cents per KWh
Now 46 meters, need updated usage.
Delivery charges: AEP, Rio Grande Electric. $3.06 cents  per KWh
Billing is correct. Four new meters are being charged tax so need to file tax exempt form. 
Energy prices are at a thirteen year low. Good chance for increasing prices in the future. Nat gas prices are biggest factor in power costs.
Good time to contract for services. Proposals from multiple providers included. 
Texas Energy is a broker, fixed rate fee from provider chosen.
Hernandez wants to know if the energy companies pay him, is their any bias or conflict on their part? No, he says, they all operate the same way. They have no loyalty to any company, although some are better than others with regard to service. 
Proposal: current is .086456 per KWh.
Power companies have presented different rates and terms. He thinks he can get this down approx $9500. Longer term contracts also available at less savings. 
Beebe mentions that item 21 on the agenda is a presentation with action by another provider. This is apples and apples, since electricity is a commodity. 
Not advocating for either presenter, but commissioners should hear from both parties before making a decision and taking action. Commissioners agree that both proposals should be heard, talk of tabling action. 
Hernandez asks about proposed political party differences, how Presidential race could affect prices. Bob says that the Democrats have been hard on coal, Republicans have been more energy friendly. 
Judge says that at this time we can leave this open and hear other proposal. Cheryl Calvert says that one big advantage of Texas Energy is that she does not have to be on hold with the energy companies, they deal with all this for us. Judge agrees that is important. Hernandez says yes, that he wants to hear from other proposal so their case can be made.

Move to Item 21- 
Public Power Tool presenter David Quinn.
Created by legislature on 2012.
Just added Jeff Davis County, Reeves County is a member. 43 counties members right now. Says they have saved 103 million dollars for members by procuring power together rather than dealing with the open market.
They send out RFPs to every power provider in the State. Usually get 10-25 power company responses. P3 board meets and then negotiate a bulk contract for all members. Estimating rate is 3.483 cents per KWh for Presidio County.
Lowest aggregation fee in the business. 
Proposal includes a total breakdown of costs. 
No commission from retailers. P3 is a 501 c 4 non-profit. Costs are transparent, fixed rate. This proposal goes through the end of 2019. P3 board is now working on contract past 2019.
If consumption changes for any reason, there is no change in rate, pool is large enough to have leverage with the retailers having to absorb any changes.
P3 handles customer service with the retailers. 
Aranda asks about potential billing problems, how do they handle these. Quinn says that they have not had any problems because P3 is watching billing closely. 
Aranda wants to to know if County can leave program after 2019 if pricing changes for new contract. Yes, the County will have sixty days from the presentation of the next procurement contract to opt out. 
Judge asks of Cheryl has any questions. Yes, Cheryl asks of there is a fee for his services. Yes, he says, it is presented in the packet which Cheryl does not have. Gives her a packet. 
Aranda confirms that these proposals are just a bit less than what we are currently paying. Quinn says that one consideration to take into account is that the term is 30 more months rather than a shorter term. Reminds commissioners that the access to bulk pricing is a future advantage as well. White says it's much like a Co-Op. 
$1540 flat initial one time membership fee. 
Hernandez asks of the County would be at a disadvantage to wait until the next meeting so that our financial offices can look at bout proposals and analyze. Cheryl, Frances agree. Quinn says that pricing right now is pretty flat, barring any major incident these numbers will not change sharply. But, anything can happen. Urges commissioners to proceed with caution and analyze both proposals.
Commissioners and Judge agree that tabling is prudent. Next meeting is Wed October 13. Judge motions to table both items 11 and 21. White seconds. Unanimous.

Break for lunch for one hour at 12:25.

Reconvene at 1:46 PM

Item 12- 
Payment for election workers: Nov 8th 2015. Election workers paid $9.50 hour, judge paid $11.50/hr
Early voting October 24th through Nov 4th. Aranda moves to approve. Unanimous.

Item 13- meals for election workers on Nov 8th- unanimous

Item 14- use of Food Pantry bldg in Presidio for election. 
Unanimous

Item 15- action to approve award application for solid waste awards program. To fund roll offs for Shafter.
Crystal Funke did the work on this one. 
White moves to approve.
Seconded by Vasquez. Aranda wants to know if we found out about tire disposal for county. Crystal says that the tire money was part of this cog program. 
Unanimous

Item 16- County sick leave pool policy amendment.
Frances Garcia presents: current policy restricts maximum number of days that people can donate to others in the sick leave pool policy.
Right now limited to five days per donor. Asking to do a maximum of ten. Isidro Garcia issue. Sick leave pool committee met and are asking for this. 
Commissioners do not see a problem with this. 
Aranda asks about whether people are willing to donate. Yes, Frances says, but also people need to preserve some hours for themselves in case they get sick. 
Aranda would like to continue paying Isidro Garcia until his health problems clear up. White says this is the rut thing to do. 
Patty Roach says that the sick leave policy has limitations. Individuals are limited to a third of the whole bank of hours. Long term consequences of doing a favor for Mr. Garcia are that the precedent is set for doing this for everyone who works for the County.
Hernandez says that PISD allows employees to donate directly to individual employees. Frances says the County used to have a similar system before the policy was implemented. 
White says that even though Isidro cannot work, the County must take care of him, even if it does not fit the system. 
Patty says that nothing can be done today beyond the sick leave policy change because it's not on the agenda. Says that even with policy change it is doubtful that he will be able to receive his full payroll amount. 
Talk about the fact that employees can donate between one and five hours on Oct 1st or at any time the pool administrator specifies. Pool administrator is Frances Garcia. 
Frances and Hernandez get into it about who is on the committee and what type of biases they may have. Employees can accumulate up to 96 hours per year in sick leave. 
Approved unanimously

Item 17- Marfa airport CIP project amendment.
Chase Snodgrass presents: Marfa airport lighting project. Upgrade to LED lighting. 
White motions to approve the amendment.
Unanimous

Item 18- purchase order for weather station maintenance for Presidio airport: Chase says this is a renewal of current contract. Unanimous

Item 19- executive session: airport personnel matter
Convene into executive session at 2:30 PM

Reconvene into open session at 3:35 PM

Item 20- action on airport personnel matter. No action taken. 

Item 21 already taken care of. 

Item 22- administrative session: move report from Presidio library to next month. 

Move down to item 24: line item transfers. 
Fifteen different proposed transfers. It's the end of the fiscal year, tying up loose ends. 
Aranda motions to approve. Unanimous

Item 25: Bills and expenses:
$55,000 to Brewster County for juvenile probation department. 
Hernandez wants to know how much money is in the CIF grant. Aranda says probably about $60,000. Katie Sanchez says last she saw was about $168,000. Aranda says more like $62,000.
Gracie Parras says that on July 14th she did a requisition for jackets and uniforms. Company does not want to provide products without payment up front. Says they have the best quality by far and is asking commissioners to approve up front payment. Patty says she pulled the order because they insist on payment up front. 
Gracie says this is our regular vendor, just asking for permission to order and pay up front. Patty says no, she recommends a new vendor. 
White mentions the pre payment of doors to the airport hangar. Patty clarifies that was a deposit and then a balance paid later. This company wants all up front. 
Hernandez wants to know if there is an alternative to change vendors. 
Patty says she can and has pulled this bill, jail can put it on their credit card and no guarantees. 
Patty says that she would have liked for the jail staff to have come to her directly rather than have it come before commissioners court. White says well, I guess that's it. 
Approximately $6700.00 bill. 
Bill is not listed and not on agenda. Judge Guevara says she will contact the company to try to get them to comply. White says it's a big enough order to shop for a new vendor. 
White tells Gracie to check with George Johnson at Johnson Feed to be new supplier. 
Judge motions to approve bills. Unanimous

Adjourn at 3:51 PM





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