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Friday, June 30, 2017

Comment on the arrests of Commissioner Hernandez and of Carlos Nieto; call for resignations.

Yesterday the day finally came when a couple of our local leaders who have played loose and fast with ethics got picked up and charged by the FBI.

Within this blog anyone can get a pretty good idea of the roles these two men have played within the County. Carlos Nieto is reminiscent to me as Presidio County's near equivalent to Harris County's Billy Burge; always present over the years, often appointed to various positions, well-connected, reviled by many, respected by others.
Carlos and I have a fundamentally different way of operating, and are often, but not always, at odds. Just his past Tuesday at the PIPA meeting in Presidio he told me I "need to calm down on that stuff" when we in the room were discussing an incident where I had called out Commissioner Hernandez on something I saw as an ethical lapse (which in that case was more of a matter of circumstance than of substance). I told Carlos, "I don't know how to calm down, I was born this way." That being said, I have never trusted Carlos Nieto and believe him to be the grifter that he is accused of being. Citizens who still wish to think of him as their mini-patron should keep in mind that he is accused of selling you out for a mere $8,300.00.

 Commissioner Hernandez and I have had a pretty good working relationship, but at times I have questioned not so much his motives but his ethical purity. In this matter, the notes (and also the official minutes) of the meeting where he voted to approve the County contract with the firm he is accused of soliciting bribes reflect my calling him out on what I had already heard was a direct conflict of interest between him and the firm. He vehemently denied any conflict when I told him point blank that if I found out there was one I would expose it, and publicly. I did not have to in this case, much to my surprise. The accusation of him soliciting this bribe surprises me a bit, but I can't say that his taking the money does, and I wish I could. The way in which he and Nieto did this deal, though, was ridiculously sloppy and amateurish.

Anyway, I am greatly disappointed in both of these men, and where there's smoke there's fire.
I can't believe this is will be the end of indictments for officials in this area; I am sure there will be more. I fully support the cleaning up of corruption, and this is a good start.

With regard to the future for both Carlos and Lorenzo, they should both resign from all their public positions for the betterment and preservation of the integrity of the institutions they are a part of. Resigning now would help rebuild the citizens' confidence in those institutions and allow new, untarnished leadership to emerge. I understand that each is innocent until proven guilty, and that is true, but a true public servant would put the public service entity's future over self in every case.

 In any case, resignations should be sought from Carlos for his Presidio Independent School District school board seat, his job at the City of Presidio as "Special Projects Manager" and any affiliation he has with the Presidio Municipal Development District. Lorenzo should resign as County Commissioner immediately and also from his seat as Vice President of the Presidio International Port Authority. If he is still affiliated with the Presidio Municipal Development District he should sever all ties. As far as his job at the school district, the PISD board should deliberate carefully on whether he should remain on campus as a role model.

It is now more important than ever for citizens to report anything they may know about crooked deals by our leaders in all agencies. It is also important for a new leadership group to emerge with a new commitment to success through ethics and transparency. And that group of younger, better and more honest leadership needs to come together now. 

Anyone may report incidents regarding Presidio County or related corruption without fear of being retaliated against by contacting the FBI at (915) 835-5000.
Thank you
 David Beebe, Justice of the Peace, Precinct One

Carlos Nieto, Lorenzo Hernandez arrested on federal bribery related charges « Big Bend Now

Carlos Nieto, Lorenzo Hernandez arrested on federal bribery related charges « Big Bend Now

Notes on Marfa City Council Meeting June 29, 2017, 6 PM

 Before I get into these notes, I have a personal opinion I would like to share. James R Mustard, City Administrator, hired former Mayor Dan Dunlap as an administrative assistant. I know this has been controversial, but it's my feeling that he is really really good at doing the numbers for the city, and will be a valuable resource for both the new Mayor and the council during the writing of the new budget for 2018. His presentation during this meeting of the recommended amended budget was clear and comprehensive and he knows the past history of every line item and can elabotrate on all of them. I am in support of Dan Dunlap's involvement with city government.

The iPad tablet I am writing this on has become increasingly unreliable and likes to crash and erase paragraphs of my notes several times per session. This is the last meeting I will use it at, as it is impossible to go back and rewrite accurate notes.

Here are the notes:
Marfa City Council, Thursday June 29, 2017, 6 PM, Marfa City Hall

All present 

Convene at 6:00

Citizen Comments:
Mona Garcia: speaks of car crash on Austin St in front of Arcon Inn. Wants Council to know that three pets have been hit by cars, tourists don't stop at stop signs, drive too fast. Wants to inform council it is now a dangerous street. Would like to have speed bumps put in to slow traffic. Pedestrian hazard.

Item IV- approve minutes of last meeting. Approved unanimously 

Item V : Mayor's Report: 
Ann Marie thanks public for attending. Attendance matters. ,ales us informed and the council accountable.
Calls attention to seminar July 10 on hotel/motel tax workshop explaining the tax and process of distributing tax. Will be informative as to permitted uses, requirements, opportunities. To be held at USO building.
TML training for newly elected officials coming up.
Annual conference is Oct 3-6 in Houston.
Timeline for budget and tax rate workshops. Late July and August is goal. Next meeting try to set dates for workshops.

Item VI: City Admin report:
Mustard, Austin St project is being completed. Dean St smaller work still has to be done. People moving barriers should be avoided. Damage to cars.

Employee matters: one employee is off duty and may not be able to return to work. One public works employee submitted resignation.
New nutrition director Callie Meeks starts Monday. Shanna Elmore resigned, went back to Sheriff's Office.
Ann Marie Nafziger encourages people to attend, young and old.
COG says that there is a freeze on numbers to add again, end of budget year. Hopefully next budget year program can be expanded again. Keeping a director makes a difference.

Councilmember comments:
Irma Salgado says that New packet configuration is better. 
 Brit Webb has a few questions: how did we get left out on pipeline money? Mustard says that we don't have a pipeline

Lost notes for last ten minutes- Apple computer malfunction. This is the final straw for this computer.

Bike Marfa proposal...
Baeza moves to table until attorneys can review contract and greater details available.
Buck agrees that is fine, offers to photoshop a picture of USO building with new bike racks.
Unanimously tabled.

Item 3: Third ambulance disposition:
Mustard says that old ambulance is capable of operating, no air conditioning, nobody can fix it, too much liability. City licensed to operate only two licenses. 
Best use could be to sell to a contractor as a work truck. 
Mark Scott asks if public works could use it? Mustard says he has not asked. 
Mustard says he will check. 
Mark Scott moves to ask gas dept and public works if they have a use for it and if they don't, to sell it. Unanimous 

Item 4:
New members for board of adjustment and zoning board.
Mustard tells people what boards do.
BOA handles variances and special use permits for properties.
Zoning Board is advisory board. Deals with changes in zoning classification.
Says city has a letter of interest from Steve Rabourn wishes to be on the zoning Board.
Mrs Veronica Campbell wishes to be on the BOA. Mustard recommends both.
Eligibility is living within city limits. Baeza motions to approve
Unanimous

Item 5:
Closing sale of lot 11, block 4 west heights addition.
Teresa Todd. Big Bend Title requested for Mayor to sign warranty deed to Michel Camacho for sale. 
Property was ceded to city by taxes owed from back in 1942. Unknown until a year and a half ago. Someone made an offer to purchase it. Process took Tim, person who made offer no longer interested. Sealed bid sale. Irma wants to know if other taxing entities had a claim. No, says Todd. Perdue Brandon did the legal work. Webb moves to approve.
Unanimous 

Item 6:
Budget amendment: Mustard says that bottom line has changed; there is more revenue than expenditure. 
Administrative assistant Dan Dunlap goes though the numbers.
Sales tax revenue has increased projected 11%. General fund sales tax 1% parks and rec.50 streets .25
Mixed beverage tax increased. 13% overall increase in administration. 
Retirement adjusted slightly , last year understated liability. Employees contribute 5% of salary, city doubles it, but liability to city is less because we have a surplus. City's contribution is 2 1/2 to 3 % depending on year.
More expense for training. New councilmember training. 
Appraisal district dues went up. 
Employee health initiative- bought airlift insurance
Parks and Rec increase in sales tax 
90,000 excess revenue in administration.
Law enforcement hardware and software increase for computers and printers.
No change in fire dept. 
municipal court tech fund and court security funds adjustments- minor
Increase in travel expense in municipal court.
EMS
Collection agency has changed. Lost some Medicaid payments. Salaries for EMS are adjusted because dollar raise this year was not in original budget. City has four full time EMT and no part time. Best case scenario but costs more than having part timers. 
Mustard gives brief history of past employment problems and city's effort to remedy. 
Dunlap says building maintenance increased. Garage door repairs. Two ambulances, two bays in use.
77,405 EMS deficit from original budget.
Library: changes in numbers based on fundraising needs and realities.
Expansion project reduced.
Tourism. 47% increase in HOT taxes.
580,000 dollars in hotel motel tax.
Renting cars, processing fees but income as well.
Increase in USO bldg maintenance.
HOT tax advertising increase. Minimum 1/7 of tax must be spent on advertising.
Nutrition Center: reimbursement from COG down due to reduced participation. Supplies and retirement also reduced.
MAC building (pool): pump for pool, natural gas for new AC went up. 
Parks and Rec: zero impact to city general fund.
Recycling: up a bit. Building maintenance. Zero impact on budget.
Public works: extra $15,000 in repairs to equipment. Also added $65,000 for used backhoe. Street repair: additional 125,000 +- in expenses.
Water department: permitting fees slightly adjusted. Budgeted $705,000 to drill a new water well but did not drill it yet. Mustard says that it will not be drilled this fiscal year even if we get the permit approved. Unknown as to when permit can be approved. 
Sewer dept: new rates led to substantial increase. 
Gas Dept: warm winter, less consumption. Down about $80,000 projected.
Increased labor costs as well for overtime.
Vehicle maintenance. Trucks fading, spent ten thousand trying to keep them going.
Tax note handing fees increased slightly.
Overall, city has made more than expected by about a half million. 
Municipal budget begins next for new fiscal year beginning Oct first.
Mustard says that cities are not required to reallocate fund in the budget before being spent unlike Counties.
Approved unanimously.

Item seven
TCOLE requirement for establishing Marfa PD
Teresa Todd updates: city almost there.
Mayor says projected guidelines for choosing police chief. Hoeing to get interviews started this month, possibly make recommendation by end of July.
Mustard says buildout of evidence room nearly complete.
Gun safe ordered.
One new vehicle in amended budget. Mustard has a proposal from Rockwell county Ford. Timing is right at changeover from 2017 vehicles and 2018. To get vehicles in any reasonable time we have an opportunity to buy one that is in stock right now. 
City has the one 2010 used truck. This one is an Explorer Police Interceptor.
Can also be converted into a patrol vehicle in proposal.
Patrol vehicle has lights, partitions, more. 
Everything would be $48,250 +/-. Costs a little more than special order for lot insurance dealer reasons but is part of Buy Board, doesn't need to be sent out to bid, as per state Buy Board exception.
Mustard thinks this is a good deal. Thinks we should buy without radio, provide our own later and save $4000. 
Turnaround about two weeks. Best choice to get a vehicle before end of the year. 

Lost more data. 

Council approves

Item 8: 
Executive session re county law enforcement contract demand for payment 
Teresa Todd says that items brought to city by County Atty do not address city's demand.
Says that tickets in city began to be send to Presidio county JP 2 in December 2016.
Says this is a significant date, but the city should ask for what they need to see. No resolution.
Webb says that it seems like sheriff is still providing service, money is in both budgets, we owe it, they need it, why don't we go ahead and pay it?
Todd says she thinks the issue is in what information the city expects in exchange for payment.
Webb says we know that Todd has an issue with sheriff.
Mayor and Baeza say it's not personal. Webb says it will be soon, we need to pay it and get along. 

(Missed some of this due to Apple computer erasing notes)

Adjourn at 7:48


Marfa City Council Agenda June 29, 2017



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Notes on Presidio International Port Authority Meeting, June 27, 2017 Noon, Presidio

PIPA meeting, Tuesday June 27, 2017, 12:30 PM, Presidio

Present: John Ferguson, Judge Guevara, Jake Giesbrecht, Lorenzo Hernandez 

Also present: David Beebe, Rod Ponton, Carlos Nieto

Convene meeting at 12:45 PM

Judge greets, mentions that meeting is a bit late, just next time will schedule for later in the day.
Quorum established.

Item 4: public comments: Carlos Nieto says that he wished to stress the importance of a letter from PIPA advocating for restoration of a full time DPS license office as part of the infrastructure for the port. There is no other border port in Texas without a DPS license office. Ponton mentions CDL issues and importance to port and Presidio.
Ferguson says that TXDOT listens to county judge's more than anyone. Nieto advocates for all agencies in the area to write letters. Judge says she will try to make an appointment to see DPS in Austin on July 26. Letters to go out in the meantime.

Item 6: accept treasurer's report. Jim White is not here, judge says it is her fault. She did not notify him of meeting, scanner not working. Judge says no action on item 6.

Item 7: past travel expenses for executive director. Jake says that since Treasurer is not here should he even go through this? Judge says he can, she will present to Treasurer. Jake says he would prefer to wait until Treasurer is here. He runs though four trips he took. Viva Fresh program, $1225.00. 
El Paso TXDOT trip, April 20-25, 
May 17, Washington DC 
Chihuahua City directly after DC. $1536
DPAC S.A. and Austin. 
Mexico City trip, very productive.
Hernandez wants to know how is best to ask PMDD for monies for PIPA. Judge says Treasurer will send an invoice and board will vote and pay it. Jake says invoice sent, PMDD said they wanted more detail and for Jake to attend a meeting and elaborate on expenses. No payment yet. Jake has sent invoice again.
County has received invoice as well, but auditor said that she needed a report from Jake. Jake gave report, judge will check to see if check has been cut. 
Ferguson move to approve Jake's expenses. Jake can be reimbursed once presented to Treasurer. Unanimous.

Item 8: office supplies for PIPA, seal, letterhead, et al for Judge.
Unanimous

Item 9: written report from executive director on meetings and activities. 
Jake presents
Says that 

PIPA meeting, Tuesday June 27, 2017, 12:30 PM, Presidio

Present: John Ferguson, Judge Guevara, Jake Giesbrecht, Lorenzo Hernandez 

Also present: David Beebe, Rod Ponton, Carlos Nieto

Convene meeting at 12:45 PM

Judge greets, mentions that meeting is a bit late, just next time will schedule for later in the day.
Quorum established.

Item 4: public comments: Carlos Nieto says that he wished to stress the importance of a letter from PIPA advocating for restoration of a full time DPS license office as part of the infrastructure for the port. There is no other border port in Texas without a DPS license office. Ponton mentions CDL issues and importance to port and Presidio.
Ferguson says that TXDOT listens to county judge's more than anyone. Nieto advocates for all agencies in the area to write letters. Judge says she will try to make an appointment to see DPS in Austin on July 26. Letters to go out in the meantime.

Item 6: accept treasurer's report. Jim White is not here, judge says it is her fault. She did not notify him of meeting, scanner not working. Judge says no action on item 6.

Item 7: past travel expenses for executive director. Jake says that since Treasurer is not here should he even go through this? Judge says he can, she will present to Treasurer. Jake says he would prefer to wait until Treasurer is here. He runs though four trips he took. Viva Fresh program, 

PIPA meeting, Tuesday June 27, 2017, 12:30 PM, Presidio

Present: John Ferguson, Judge Guevara, Jake Giesbrecht, Lorenzo Hernandez 

Also present: David Beebe, Rod Ponton, Carlos Nieto

Convene meeting at 12:45 PM

Judge greets, mentions that meeting is a bit late, just next time will schedule for later in the day.
Quorum established.

Item 4: public comments: Carlos Nieto says that he wished to stress the importance of a letter from PIPA advocating for restoration of a full time DPS license office as part of the infrastructure for the port. There is no other border port in Texas without a DPS license office. Ponton mentions CDL issues and importance to port and Presidio.
Ferguson says that TXDOT listens to county judge's more than anyone. Nieto advocates for all agencies in the area to write letters. Judge says she will try to make an appointment to see DPS in Austin on July 26. Letters to go out in the meantime.

Item 6: accept treasurer's report. Jim White is not here, judge says it is her fault. She did not notify him of meeting, scanner not working. Judge says no action on item 6.

Item 7: past travel expenses for executive director. Jake says that since Treasurer is not here should he even go through this? Judge says he can, she will present to Treasurer. Jake says he would prefer to wait until Treasurer is here. He runs though four trips he took. Viva Fresh program, 

(Computer failure, lost notes for last ten minutes)
Unanimous approved expenses. 

Item 8: office supplies for judge. Approved

Item 9: jakes report: provides written notes. 
Mayor Ferguson in Washington DC did great, very effective. 
Great progress made with chief planner for TXDOT. Tryon Lewis supporting. 
New Secretary of State was formerly with Borderplex.
Renegotiation of NAFTA in progress and being headed up by a group that includes Jake. 
Our port got a lot of attention. Inspections promised in Ojinaga. Massive progress on USDA issues, other opening of restrictions.
Mexico City meeting giant progress. Now on the map for international commerce policy makers. 
Things moving very fast.
First time for our region to be on the radar for trade with these groups on both sides of the border. 
Presidio port can be the chosen port for small to medium size businesses, as opposed to Fortune 500 companies. Governments recognize this. Fresh produce, eggs, finished meat products, cattle. 
USDA Texas director says that Washington DC told him that he has permission to do anything with regard to Presidio port.
TDA and USDA have committed to work with us. 

Ferguson wants to know about who spearheads warehousing, transfer points etc. Jake says that will be PIPA.
Legal issues of how to structure this are being addressed. Public private partnerships with PIPA as the public is the best way to get this all done fast and the way we want it to develop. 
Ferguson is hopeful that Jake guides them through, he doesn't want to miss out on opportunities. Nieto says it's true, if we do not do it, outside companies will do it and we will miss out.
Monies for PIPA will come from charges for moving the product. $6-$10 per pallet. 
Jake says things are moving very fast, focusing on MOU with TXDOT. 
Mexico side, highway to Camargo needs to be addressed. Working on this.
Companies are very excited.
State of Texas represents more than 70% of trade with Mexico. 
TXDOT extended Arturo's contract to Rd the existing bridge on June 21. 
Trump people expect for locals to shape policy. 
Jake expects that within fifteen days things will be moving across...
Highway 67 corridor study will start in September. 
Rail is going to be held up an additional two months because rail company is afraid of flooding. Nieto says we are due. Every eight years or so...
Jake says that is true, cause for delay.

Report unanimously accepted.

Item 10 covered in previous item. 

Judge asks about date for next meeting before adjournment.
Possible next meeting in August, near end of August.
Jake would like to have a meeting in July since things are moving so fast. 
Judge says prior to the the twentieth would be best, she will try to schedule.
 
Adjourn at 1:39




Notes on Presidio County Commissioners Court meeting, 6/27/2017, 9:30 AM, Presidio

Presidio County Commissioners Court June 27, 2017, 9:30 AM, Presidio

Convene at 9:40 am

Present: Judge Cinderela Guevara, Eloy Aranda, Lorenzo Hernandez, Loretta Vasquez
County Attorney Rod Ponton also present.


Citizen comments:
Judge Beebe addresses commissioners court about item on agenda for executive session and open meetings act violations by going into executive session for reasons other than personnel or contract issues possibly detrimental to the county. Says he believes that commissioners broke the law last time the meeting was held in Presidio with regard to the county/city of Marfa law enforcement contract. Although he cannot prove the law was broken, he remind commissioners and judge that despite what the county attorney says about whether or not executive session is legal, if it isn't the commissioners can be prosecuted. Reminds Commissioners that when Alpine city council got in trouble for breaking the TOMA Rod Ponton was then city Attorney and the council members got into trouble, not the attorney.

Carlos Nieto advocates for Clerk Services in Presidio.
Also addresses Court regarding partial closure of drivers license office in Presidio. Sheriff Dominguez will write a letter to DPS advocating for full reopening. Need commissioners court to help.

Judge's comments:
July 6 is emergency training for all county officials. All need to attend. David Marquez from El Paso will be giving training. Judge will ask officials of other agencies to attend as well. 

Tomorrow Judge Guevara and EPA will go to Ojinaga for HAZmAT training.
Carlos Nieto says that he sees HAZMAT resources going to Mexico and not here. He wants Judge to help him tell the story of the needs in the County.
Says we need to do a better job of letting our needs be known. Judge says that she does not think she would have known about this training if she had not attended the training in Alpine last month. Judge invites commissioners to attend if they would like.
Judge says that Joe Portillo and he Mayor of Presidio will be there too. 
Hernandez says he will try to go since he wants to advocate for disposal solutions.
Nieto brings up restricted items not being able to cross the bridge currently because of lack of HAZMAT inspections at gate.
Judge says Greg Davis of Capital met with her after the last meeting regarding the pipeline appraisal numbers. Invites commissioners to email him with any questions about pipeline numbers. Confirmed that county is not able to tax railroad for pipeline brought to the county. Anything in county for less than 182 days does not achieve "Situs". Railroad assessments are different than normal tax assessment.
Carlos Nieto makes additional comment: says Greg Davis was here for mine value court case. He sent Greg to judge also to discuss all utility assessment in County. Very well-informed individual. Good resource to have and use.
Aranda as there is a lot of misinformation it there; the county anticipated a few million of revenue from the pipeline but it will be less, probably about 600-650 thousand only.
Hernandez says we need to be careful with these numbers because people will be asking about the money and he numbers. Nieto says that numbers will need to be certified by sometime in July. Need to be careful in budgeting with the numbers you use, not too high, not too low. 
Judge says that in meeting with dept heads that budget talks have gone well, nobody has asked for unreasonable raises or demands. 

Commissioners: Aranda thanks Carlos Nieto for helping with officials in Austin trying to keep drivers license office open. Hopeful for more progress on this issue. Ponton aye that DPS is trying to set up mega centers in the cities and the funding is coming from the rural areas. Hernandez is interested in how the previous employee gave information to her higher ups. Nieto says that he was extra offended when DPS offered to reopen the office if the city of Presidio would pay for the office. Gross injustice that the poorest of the poor would have to pay while the richer areas of the State get it provided. 
Will be an agenda item on the RGCOG agenda for July. 
Senator Rodriguez and Poncho Nevarez are working on this. Will Hurd also making noise. Hernandez recommends a letter from commissioners court and the cities, school districts. 
Ponton mentions the voter ID mandate as a potential motivator for lessening Services for ID s in border communities. 
Judge says she will also speak with Judges Duer and Cano in neighboring counties since the one person at the Alpine office is already overburdened. Hernandez says the worst thing was hat DPS gave us no notice, no options, no respect.

Hernandez says the water grant project in Candelaria meeting will occur today around five pm. Judge says she has found a few folks who are willing to help out with a class c license and another with a class d license. Presidio person with class c license will operate system and class d licensee can assist and backup. Issues with sharing water meters still need to be addressed. 
Hernandez says there is still a need to secure the water system.
Both ladies in Candelaria who are very involved with the system are very sick. 
Ponton says that TCEQ has recommended that the county set up a countywide water district to run the outlying areas. Something to look at and work with the COG on. 
Nieto says that may be the best thing to investigate for long term success and compliance. 
Ponton says that trash pickup could be included. Hernandez says that even ten dollars a month could be debilitating for many in those areas. 
COG rep Annette Gutierrez says that grant funding for cleanup events and not regular service could be accessed. "Customary service" not acceptable for grant approval.
Nieto says that in the absence of these programs much gets burned, and what does not get burned gets into the arroyos. Or illegally dumped along roadways. 
Or brought into City of Presidio. 
More talk about trash and tire removal.

Item 6-8
NIBRS reimbursement for COG. Annette Gutierrez presents. Patch of COPSync, software for constables offices, light admin cost. 
Constable Marquez applied for grant, sheriff's office has COPSync, ready to integrate. 
Next year constable Coker could apply.
Costs approved by commissioners. Items six, seven and eight approved. 

Item 10- (no item 9 on agenda)
Marfa and Presidio County museum funding: 
Presentation last Commissioners Court meeting by JoAnn Williams. 
Judge says that money could be amended in budget. Vasquez moves to approve. Aranda seconds. 
Motion carries. Hernandez steps out before vote but has no objection. 

Item 11: contract with LexisNexis for legal subscription. 
$216/month. Judge asks for postponement of item, not everything included in this item description. Needs correction. Aranda motions to postpone. Approved.

Item 12: Ballroom Marfa dirt purchase for adobe construction. 
Judge wants to know about soil purchasing. Ruben says that sometimes we donate to non-profits. Aranda says that over the years that the County has occasionally donated things, but has not sold Services in the past because it eventually causes problems. 
Donations to non profits a little different. Judge reads letter requesting sale of soil. 
Soil to be delivered. Hernandez is concerned about competing with the local businesses. Vasquez is interested in giving it to them and not selling it. Hernandez agrees. Ruben Carrasco agrees that the county does not want to be in the business of selling dirt. Vasquez makes the motion to donate, Aranda seconds. 
Sheriff says that a donation is not on the agenda, not permitted today. Virgie agrees. Vasquez says we can sell it for one dollar, amends his motion. Hernandez seconds. 
Unanimous. 

Items 13,14,15,16- CDBG grant items 

Engineering services: approve RFQ process-  approved 

RFQ for selecting engineering services for grant. Approved

RFQ for grant administrator: approved

RFQ to select grant administrator: approved

Item 17- change name of Tyson st to Mendoza after a property owner. Person who requested is not present. Judge unsure of location, reason for proposed change.
Ruben says that this road is right next to Palomino cantina in the illegal colonia up there. It is not a county road. Ponton says it is private property, commissioners have nothing to do with it, court should take no action. 
Sheriff says that history has that area called Tysonville, unsure of how it got that way. Definitely not a dedicated county road. Court should not act, commissioners agree. 
Aranda says Ruben is working on a complete map of all county roads to be approved and submitted to state to show how much mileage we re maintaining for grant funding etc. 
Discussion of various roads maintained and not maintained by county. 
No action on item.

Item 18: Upper Shafter Road as County road. Ruben Carrasco, road and bridge dept. 
person who submitted application is Matt Quick, Shafter property owner. Road has been maintained by County for a long time, although not listed. 
Court has authority to designate and name road. 
Ruben says that it has been maintained for years and years. One resident, Glenn Rhinehart, wants to be sure that nobody trespasses on the sides of the road. 
Road is not on TXDOT county road list. 
Road also crosses Pat Simms property. 
Ponton says that he has not been advised. Says the county needs surveys, deeds, and to designate easements. Legal description not adequate. Action would be premature. 
Aranda recounts another incident about designating a road and the difficulties on getting a survey, permissions from landowners. 
Ponton says that dedicating a road without easements, we could be condemning private property and subject to liability. 
Chapter 251 of transportation code addresses some of these issues. 
Aranda makes a motion to postpone until County Atty and Ruben can review and prepare any recommendations. 
Ponton says he will provide a on sheet on how to add a county road to the system in the future. 
Postponed.

Item 19:
Unlawful dumping ordinance.
Basics is proposed ordinance. Ponton says counties can enforce state laws against dumping as long as commissioners adopt a county ordinance.
Hearings in front of justice of the peace regarding illegal dump sites.
Aranda discusses fencing for eyesores. Ponton says visibility is part of the ordinance.
Nieto says that commissioner Hernandez has been bringing this up for a long time. 
Unsightly, health hazards. 
Ponton says that wording in this ordinance comes from Ector County. 
Will letters be sent? Process is peace officer to send letter, after ten days then citation can be issued, JP can issue order, afterwards can impose fines, be forced to clean up.
Judge says that she thinks we can pass ordinances trying to control people, but we need to think about having a dedicated enforcement officer for all this. 
Says that if we do not do this, there is no way progress will actually occur. Sheriff's office is already strained, has more important things to do. A person dedicated to this in the next budget cycle who gives monthly reports to commissioners court on progress is something she would like to see. 
Aranda says that there are a lot of people with yards full of worthless stuff, they will want answers on how to move their items. Judge says that solid waste grant's will be helpful and part of this. 
Hernandez says this is the first phase, he agrees we need to ramp up to an officer, but this first phase needs to happen now. 
Judge says that she has not unite had the time to really go through everything in this document, she wants everyone to really study this, might want to postpone. Aranda says that we are going to approve this or something similar, we don't yet have a comprehensive plan, but can approve this for now. Ponton says we can approve as a first reading, final reading later.
Judge motions to approve the ordinance effective immediately. Seconded by Aranda. Unanimous.
Ponton encourages comprehensive reading on the matter, possible adjustments for next meeting, potential to amend. 

Consent items: 

 Item 22: law enforcement.

Open meetings discussion- Judge has that in light of Judge Beebe's comments at the beginning of the meeting she does not want to discuss item in closed session, does not think it qualifies. Lorenzo Hernandez wants to know what the problem is with closed session. Ponton says it is permitted. Judge says she has been mistaken in the past and it is her duty to make corrections and she will not go into closed session even if the rest of them do. 
Atty client- Ponton says that it is permitted in this case due to possible litigation issues. Attorney client privilege. Judge says she is unaware of any discussion of any litigation, has not heard anything about that from anyone. Ponton quotes statue about litigation. Judge stands firm on refusal and she thinks it should be in open session. 
Aranda says he does not mind if it is in open session, why is there a problem? Hernandez says open session or closed session is ok with him but why can't we do it in executive session. Ponton says we can. Judge says she does not believe we can. 
Both public entities, and city did not go into executive session on the matter.
Sheriff is asked about city negotiations. 
City of Marfa had meetings in open session. 
Aranda says there don't seem to be secrets.
Ponton says he has no problem with it being in open session. 
Judge says that she has a letter from city administrator regarding contract. 
Hernandez wishes to know if there is a problem. Judge stands firm on staying in open session since there is no pending litigation. 
Aranda says there is no reason to risk this. 
Judge says that abusing the executive session is very serious.
In the past, judge says that she put bids for property into executive session, but she has been corrected on that matter. 
Judge says this is not a matter of being intimidated, it is a matter of doing things right. 
Ponton says that statute says that governmental entities may consult privately with Atty on matters of litigation or potential litigation.
Judge says that she has not received any notice of possible litigation. 
Marco Baeza says that agenda item does not specify what the item specifies. The item is too vague as to what the purpose is.
Based on conversation he has heard, he does not know what the purpose of the item is. 
Judge makes motion to postpone items 22 and 23. 
Vasquez seconds. 
Hernandez wants to discuss this in open session or whatever. Does not care if it is in executive session. Wants to know what's happening. 
Aranda says he wants to find out what's going on as well. 
Judge amends motion 
Motions to discuss in open session. 
Unanimous.

Item 22: letter from Mustard.
Marfa city council wants additional information on bill from county. City wants documentation on actual expenditures for work performed under proposed contract. 
City does not agree that city and contract has a contract to begin with. 
$110,000 bill.
Aranda notes that city had never asked this before.
Ponton discussed this with outside counsel Jim Allison and there are two legal ways to enforce this agreement.
One is a contract. Contract enforcement of prior agreement. Service upon merit.
Ponton thinks sheriff's office has seen more that that as it is. Says that citizens are being punished, and what for? 
Judge says that Ponton received this email, Ponton says he has not seen it.
Vasquez asks about when the contract was not renewed
Ponton says that contract was not renewed, much like other previous ones took months to need. Regardless, services were provided and paid for in past.
County expected new contract to be handled in the same way as past contracts.
Services were provided.
If contract was prorated city owes county $110,000.

Aranda says he is surprised that Marfa wants all this information.
City of Presidio has worked with county on tax assessor s bill, this is less money. Aranda says that this is nonsense, city should pay.
Nieto says that city of Presidio paid despite nobody having a signed document. City made good with county. County treated Presidio aggressively; Marfa should be treated the same way. He does not see good will from city of Marfa.
Hernandez wants to know who is taking care of negotiations from the county side. Judge says she wrote a letter asking for compensation for services provided. OMB and auditor prepared numbers. Marfa responded with these requests. Now we need to go further, consult with County Atty. Hernandez would lie, to have joint meeting with City of Marfa council. Is this possible? Ponton says yes. 
All decision makers at the same table. Judge asks if other commissioners would like this. All commissioners express support.
Ponton says two issues:
City decided they didn't like Sheriff Dominguez 
County is out $110,000 
Two issues, city can do what they like with the first, pay the bill for the second. 
Nieto says that for all the county does for the city of marfa, Marfa is ungrateful. Yes, transparency is important, and so is doing the right thing. City of Presidio was badgered and reprimanded, shamed into paying less money for tax collection bill to the county, Marfa should get at least that same  this case. 
Vasquez would like to provide the numbers they are asking for in the meantime.
Probably more than the $110,000. 
Hernandez thinks they are making this more difficult than it needs to be. Judge wants to schedule a joint meeting. Talks regarding when possible. July 18 or 19 tentatively scheduled. 

Recess for 12:25 until 1:25

Reconvene at 1:47 PM

Budget amendments
23,726 dollars in phone cost transfers, line to line. Most is sheriff/jail of $20,000 plus.
Long distance call expense, more calls in general.
ATT charging over $3 per minute for long distance. Up from $1.55. Outrageous. 
Most jailers and deputies have cell phones that are out of area. 
Big Bend Telephone service changeover is going to be a big cost reduction. 
Vasquez says that if we have to wait another six months on this then maybe we get some cell phones in the meantime.
Auditor will inquire about switching to bbt phone only contract first before fiber rewiring.

Judge motions to approve emergency expenditure for phone costs/budget amendment. Unanimous 

Line item transfers:

Approved unanimously including transfer for museum funds approved earlier in meeting.


Item 21: 
Bills
Auto Zone bill for transmission for pickup. Not yet received. Patty presents a receipt indicating received but transmission not received. Ruben says do not pay bill until received. Road and bridge pickup.

Bills approved minus Auto Zone bill.

Adjourn at 2:17 pm









Presidio County Commissioners Court Agenda June 17, 2017




Notes on Marfa City Council Meeting, 6/13/2017, 6PM City Hall, Marfa

Marfa city council


All present

Gretel Enck: comments

Mayors report: 
Nutrition center

Amplification of voices
(Lost data here due to Apple computer malfunction)

Council members comments:
Irma Salgado: looks to improve access to agenda item postings and councilmember packets.
Has an alternative way to present older information in an accessible way for council members to reference during meetings.
Council members receptive to her approach.

New business:
Establishing Marfa police dept.

Mayor says multiple motions will take care of this.
Teresa Todd presents.
TCOLE application
She was advised by supervisor at TCOLE to expect about a 30 day turnaround.
Requirements about facilities.
Nine policies must be outlined. Teresa Todd has completed six.

Outlines elements of Officer oath.
Expectations outlined within.
Teresa asks for finishing policies and procedures. Motion made as follows. Unanimous.

Establish a hiring committee for police chief.
Mayor says that she would like to present herself, city admin, Teresa Todd and Manny Baeza as committee. Mark Scott makes that motion. 
Second by Salgado.
Unanimous 

Authorize required improvements for police dept space, plus bid by XL services for required evidence room construction.
XL (Lalo Garcia) has done work for city before at USO building. 
Baeza moves to approve proposal for construction. 
Unanimous

Item 2:
Chip Seal program for street repairs.
Map provided by City. 
Priority one and two streets can be repaired for the $125,000 without engineering costs. 
Yellow chip seal eligible streets could be done instead. 
Baeza wants to do priority one and two streets first.
Mayor says that $125,000 is the minimum amount city can spend to qualify for the chip seal program, a consortium of cities that can participate in discounted rate. 
Rosie Garcia says that Paris St has only been paved halfway when it was refinished two years ago. 
Tax note monies accessed for this program. 
Questions regarding tax note financing. 
Trey Gerfers asks about how streets are being redone. Chip seal is not a street rebuild. 
Questions about future budgeting for streets.
Pablo Carrasco asking questions about grants for streets, parks, water lines, etc. 
Manny Baeza asks if city has money in regular budget to fund administration for this project. Mayor says she is not sure.
Teresa says that money from land sale is coming up and might be blue to be used. 
Irma make the motion to adopt this approach to street maintenance. Unanimous.

Item 3: Requesting Presidio county bill for law enforcement services. 
Teresa Todd presents. Judge Guevara present.
Request for $110,000 to county.
Teresa, Mayor, City admin met and want to ask county for names of officers, county records, other info. 
Judge Guevara says she does not have solid numbers at this point but can get info to the city. Says that each Deputy costs about $51,000 per year after benefits. 
Fuel and maintenance per patrol unit is about $815 per month. 
Says it's a shame that the contract did not work out and we weren't able to reach an agreement. She does not believe that the City asked for anything unreasonable.
She says she has enjoyed a good relationship with the City since 1992, wants to continue that. Judge is open to communication and offers her service. 
Mayor asks for motion to accept asking for information. Mark Scott makes motion to request info. 
Unanimous.

Item 4: encroachments onto lots on Mendias and Novez St.
Eric Arredondo, Mrs Vizcaino grandson. 
Teresa says last action on this item was in 2013.
Never finished the resolution of the project to fix this problem. 
East side of property has an issue that was to be resolved.
Eric says that surveyor took lines from certain points and there are encumbrances. Would like for city to sell areas for a clear title. 
South side has problems as well, needs a survey there to try to get an agreement on that. 
Teresa Todd:
Novez Ave is seventy foot ROW. There is room to accommodate these encroachments. 
Property owner on opposite side of street is parents of Eric, no objections. 
11.5 feet wide strip would need to be sold on east side. South side issue would need an agreement to allow encroachments because city utilities are too close. 
Encroachment agreements adopted by city in 2016.
Beebe states that council at the time in 2013 was prepared to sell the east side once issues were resolved, did not have at that time a good answer for the south side property issue. 
 MArk Scott make a motion to niter into an encroachment agreement on south side of property. $250 application fee no 50 cents per sq foot for every yer of agreement, 15 year term. All this is as per city rules. 
Unanimous.
East side motion by Webb to approve selling the 11.5 feet for fair market value, survey and appraisal paid for by Vizcaino family.
Unanimous.

Item 5: 
Action Heating and cooling HVAC replacement for kitchen in MAC building at Nutrition Center. Also electrical work for freezer outlets. 
$8200. 
Baeza asks about where funds come from. Capital Outlay from MAC bldg? Yes, out of MAC building. 
Approved unanimously.

Item 6: 
MAC building pool of swimming lessons, coach Wayne Schroeder. Wants to give swim lessons in Marfa, has been giving lessons in Alpine for years. 11 AM to 1 pm Tues-Friday. They will pay for two lifeguards, propose city waive fee so as to have lessons in Marfa $55 for lessons.
Mayor sees this as a potential pilot program. 
Brit Webb says he ran the pool the first three years it was open. Motions to approve. Unanimous.

Item 7: monthly revenue expenditure and accounts payable reports.

Salgado asks about some of the bills. Dollar General $1064? Rachel Whitley says it is for something else, a mistake. Will be corrected next time. 
Vendors and what they do?
H&M automotive. What kind of repairs?
Motion picture license for library program.
Backup ambulance repairs. 
TML dues.
Approved unanimously.

Adjourn at 7:10 pm




Notes on Presidio County Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday 6/13/2017, Marfa

Presidio County Commissioners Court Tuesday June 13th, 9:30, Marfa

All present

Meeting convened at 9:40

Citizen comments: Buck Johnston 
Says that she read that ETP is going to give $500,000 to county. Would like for commissioners to make long term investments for the citizens, such as solar power for the county jail. Investing in water infrastructure. Heard that money may be spent on a drone, says that technology will be outdated quickly, encourages long term thinking.

Judge Says that 4H club will present but are not here yet.

Judge's announcements:
Good news from Judge.
May 19 Judge received letter from Sen Rodriguez alerting of a letter of support from his office to TXDOT for a TAPS grant for Presidio county. Pedestrian mobility projects grant.
Presidential permit for bridge was signed on May 30. Thanks congressman Hurd, Poncho Nevarez and Jose Rodriguez. Would be great to see widened sidewalks and pedestrian covering, possible parking expansion. Current bridge is not pedestrian friendly. Bridge is a giant asset. Railroad is next.
PIPA meeting later this month. June 27 second commissioners court meeting, possible PIPA meeting then in Presidio.
ETP will donate $500,000 to Presidio County from pipeline company. Rick Smith presented. Looking for best use for this money. Taxes are high, we need to benefit the taxpayers as a whole. Pay down jail debt would help. Interest charges and payments for jail one of our highest costs. 
Aranda says there are multiple things we can do. Lowering taxes is one. 
HVAC for jail project would be a good use. Constituents come first. State of Texas is mandating unfunded requirements left and right. Lowering tax rate for people is a big goal. 
Judge says that State Lege did not augment school funding, tax rates there will not go down. Lotto money is not all going to schools. 
Judge says that taxpayers should come first, we need to be stewards of this donation as if it was ours personal. Debts need to be covered first. Donation will have to be formally accepted on a future agenda in commissioners court..

Vasquez asks about Presidential permit and construction commencement. Judge is not sure. Mexico cannot start until 2018 due to budgets. 
Vasquez hopes the bridge wait reduces during busy times. Hernandez says that there will still be waits as the number of lanes at CBP is a factor.
Judge mentions 559 opportunities. 

4H club presents:
Reba Griggs, 4H director.
State Roundup and participated in many events. Fourth place in the whole state . Archery, roping went well. Thanks commissioners court for allowing us to us roping arena. Awards banquet happened this past weekend. 
Plans for rest of the summer are Senior leader lab, possibly qualify for State Council. Junior lab next week, big kickoff in September. 

Commissioners comments: none

Item 6: minutes from May 9, 16

Hernandez and Bentley request future emails with minutes enclosed to save time. Agreed, this time there was not enough time. 
Minutes approved unanimously.

Item 7: consent agenda items... Judge says this time we will pass on this.

Item 8: county auditor: line item transfers and budget amendments 
Patty Roach: update about contract payments from other entities for dispatch services. Everyone is up to date except for Jeff Davis County dispatch payments.
Independent auditor has been here, hoping to have initial materials don by end of this week.
Aranda asks about audit. 2016 is being worked on by auditor. Asks about 2017, are we up to date? Patty says not all, Treasurer will report on that. Fiscal year ends Sept 30, books remain open for two months to pay band close out bills, accounts. 
Auditor's written report: submitted as of May 31. Includes bank balances. 
Debt schedule included. Lease/purchase agreements included. 
Budget usage analysis of all accounts.
Asks commissioners to think about what they want as far as printing of hard copies; lots of paper use potentially on a monthly basis. 
Judge says that commissioners be aware of how much paper we are using just for commissioners court meetings. Would like to explore electronic data options. 
Hernandez says he is concerned about departments trying to spend all of their budgets before the end of the year even if they don't need to spend this money. Is there anything Commissioners Court can do about this?
Aranda talks about dept heads carrying over last year's budget for payroll increases for employees. Do dept heads have that right? No, Patty says, commissioners court has that right. Commissioners make all decisions on salaries, raises, etc.
 Aranda thinks this could be a good idea. Patty strongly cautions against this. She says commissioners need to look at salaries across all county depts. Right now there is disparity everywhere. Need job descriptions, evaluations, formalization of pay standards. 
Hernandez wants to know how to start this process. She says in house or hire an outside consultant. Hernandez wants to know if she has seen any abuse of line item transfers, and if so, does she catch these things? Patty says that regular line item transfers for things such as office supplies vs  new chair are not abuses in her eyes. If something was extreme, she would say something about it. Hernandez is still concerned about dept heads using more money than they need just to keep their existing budgets. 
More talk about what could be an abuse, alerting commissioners court to potential abuses. 
Hernandez asks about elected officials not showing up to work? Any recourse? 
Everyone should go to work every day. 
Vasquez talks about this, and he has not really seen abuse. Patty amy's rules for elected officials are different.
Maybe that could be addressed in budgets. 

Budget amendments and line item transfers.
Airport has collected over 104% of budgets revenues for Presidio airport. Airports asking for increases in budget for revenues no expenses to reflect this. $40,000. 
Hernandez asks about taking in forty thousand and spending it all. Patty says that airport balance is a little different. He can hang on to money and put it into fund balances. Hernandez says Chase is always coming for grant monies from general fund so why don't we take some of this back for once. Katie Sanchez says his budget is very tight and he had conservative numbers as a practice of fiscal responsibility in the 2017 budget period. Patty agrees. Selling fuel, buying fuel to sell..
Hernandez says that he has an issue with line item transfers overall, get money for one thing, spend it later on another, but spending. 
Approved except for Hernandez who vote no. 
Sheriff's Office budget amendment vehicle repair fund for Toyota tailgate damage, just over $700. Same vehicle, different accident. Insurance claim has been received. 
$738.38. Approved.
Line item transfers: list of items. Patty goes through them. 
Hernandez reiterates his concerns about transfers. Wants Patty to recommend whether to approve items. Patty says her job is not to recommend approval, but to present.
Money is there in all depts, just needs to be moved around. 
Hernandez says that once money is in budgets, it is hard for them to deny it. Patty says that she thinks elected officials, once budgeted monies, can use the monies as they deem fit. Commissioners court can deny, but dept heads have that job. 
Questions over furniture in clerks office. Virgie says that particle board furniture is falling apart, new furniture will be of better quality and will last longer. 
Hernandez is still concerned about padding of budgets during budget time. Patty says it is not here authority to address that issue. Hernandez says he understands.
Vasquez says he does not have a problem with monies staying within a department if money is allocated to that dept. Hernandez says he does have a problem with that concept. This is taxpayer money, we should never spend more than we need to.
More talk about furniture and several departments asking for furniture line item transfers. Capital expenditures less than $500 are not budgeted as capital items. 
Aranda says that he thinks we are mostly on the same page here. Most everyone is frugal and knows the County is on a tight budget. Everyone needs to be careful with what they spend. 
Patty says that before there was a County Auditor, there was no notice of overspending budgets or line item transfers. Now it is different. Hernandez agrees. It is better. 
Judge says we have come a long way in two years. 
Hernandez says that people are complaining about taxes, land valuations. Commissioners receive these complaints. 
Item approved unanimously.

Move to item 12 for expedition of item. Marfa and Presidio County museum.
Mrs Williams and Mrs Marquez present.
Requesting $1500 in assistance for 2018 budget. Currently open Thurs-Sat, 1-5 pm. Would like to open a bit more. Building is in need of repairs, city has helped. Main source of income is Marfa thrift store. Store moved recently and traffic is down since they moved off Highland St. salaries at thrift store and a person at the museum. 
Utilities at museum are large. 
Used to receive a City grant from hotel motel tax. Denied this year. 
2016 2700 people came to the museum. Now not open enough to satisfy demand. 
Lots of requests to be open more often.
Judge says this is not an action item today.  Budget talks begin soon, and can discuss adding this during that time.
City will be asked for resumption of grant. 
New exhibit on films made in the area. 
No action.

Item 15- big bend Telephone wiring pricing and options for courthouse and other locations. 
Aaron Rodriguez presents.
Change in plan adding courthouse wiring incurs the one time cost is $70,000. 
Courthouse will be divided into quadrants for troubleshooting purposes down the line and more reliability. Fiber will be run between floors as well. 
Wiring at golf course may be needed, wants for future unknown.
Airport is another factor, what is needed/wanted? 
Contract to be presented. Today is a a good time for questions. Katie Sanchez says she is waiting for minutes from the 9th for wording in contract. 
Still saving county money over the long term. 
Vasquez asks if system has unlimited calling. Yes, Aaron says.
Foreign calls can be blocked or access codes available. 
Katie and Aaron with County Attorney working on contract asap. 
Courthouse wifi included. 
No action.

Recess for lunch at 11:41. Back at 1 pm.

Reconvene at 1:17

Item 11- fireworks unincorporated Presidio County July 4 weekend.
Judge says we do this every year for safety.
Places for safe fireworks displays are designated.
Include Vizcaino Park, horse track in Presidio. City of Presidio has a celebration at Daly Park. 
Unanimous

Item 13: renew postage meter contract. Pitney Bowes.
Machine upgrade will occur. Old one obselete.
No contract in packet for commissioners. 
Increase of thirty dollars per quarter.
Patty Roach recommends that all contracts be filed with County Clerk. 
Access to all. Virgie has questions about within the minutes or separately. Possible to scan contracts and put them in a separate file of just contracts. 
Scan them in, have access.
Hernandez recommends that County Attorney have contracts since he needs to go over them as well. Patty and Virgie thinks they should be filed with Clerk. 
Hernandez advocates for Rod to do it. Patty says Clerk is in the business of maintaining records. Bentley says Rod could store the backup. Possibly online through website.
Judge Guevara mentions that Virgie is the Clerk of the court and all contracts are under commissioners court. 
Agreed to put an item on the agenda about contracts, new and old, for next time. 
Judge motions to ends postage meter contract. Unanimous.

Item 14:
Posting of vacancy for Veterans Affairs Officer. Harlan Hardy retiring officially. He may work a bit longer but job description needs to be advertised and posted. 
Approved unanimously.

Item 16: Sheriff's Office assistant salary for examiner of FY 2017 to up to $16.00/hour.
Sheriff presents.
List of duties for office assistant. 
Lost a good secretary to a better paying job. Pay for duties she had was insufficient. 
Believes that pay raise is needed to attract proper secretary who will stay.
Aranda asks how long she has been away. About a month. 
Sheriff has money in his budget due to open position, requests raise from $12/hr up to $16/hr.
Judge reads off salaries for assistants in all departments. Vast discrepancies in pay across county departments. 
Sheriff says she took care of all theses duties plus more he can't even remember. Sent her to school to learn duties. 
Bentley says that she thinks all dept heads feel the same way that their employees are underpaid and deserve more, all dept heads send their employees to training. 
Sheriff asks for pay of up to $16/hr depending on education and qualifications. 
Bentley says that we have been taking about pay schedules and there are people with masters degrees working for $13/hr. Hernandez has a problem with everyone else wanting to give their dept employees a ra sue for the same reasons. 
Sheriff says he has more work, can't do it all.
Judge wants to know how much $16/hr would be per year. $33,280. 
More discussion about pay scales and disparities. 
Hernandez says this affects next year's budget and just because the money is there this issue does not go away.
Sheriff says that he will try to compensate for extra pay from his existing budget for next year. 
Judge says that position is vital and that it's very important for someone qualified and educated to be in it. JP's only make $31,000 a year, perhaps give a raise up to a lower level and then re-evaluate all salaries for assistant positions in the budget cycle. Aranda wants to go with it. Bentley says that this is same issue across all departments.
Hernandez says that he had the same issue with Treasurer Frances Garcia. Frances says that he denied her for same issue. Discussion.
Hernandez says that if the same budget is presented and dept head can find the money from elsewhere then he is ok with it. 
Bentley says this is the problem, dept heads will use all monies they have, same thing that Hernandez was objecting to earlier. 
Patty says that the costs are continuing, extra benefits costs provide a misconception as to how much people are making, discrepancies between similar jobs, years of experience, different education. 
Bentley agrees. 
Sheriff says that this is a totally different animal. 
Hernandez thinks the ease is excessive, asks sheriff if he does. No, Sheriff says.
Big jump in pay, Hernandez says.
Vasquez suggests $13.45 starting, reconsider next year. Sheriff asks a about next year, becomes a bit combative. 
Vasquez says that to be fair despite the work and importance of the work, raise should be smaller than $16. 
Sheriff says he sees the point but he is not affecting the budget whatsoever. 
Bentley says it affects the whole County and the employees and their morale. 
Bentley fears that everyone will adjust their budgets for raises in the future. Judge says she thinks this should wait until next budget cycle, her former Clerk Crystal who quit was only making just over ten dollars per hour. 
Judge says that we should consider bringing in a outside consultant to equalize and define wages and duties. Says that she does not mean to talk from both sides of her face since she gave her new Clerk a raise since Jessie was highly qualified with experience at the State. Says that Shanna was underpaid for what she did for the Sheriff. 
Hernandez says that that raise has led to this one; he does not have a problem with sheriff trying to de the same thing, budget neutral. We have opened up ourselves to this situation and we knew someone was going to come in and now it's the Sheriff. Process is the same. These are the repercussions. 
Aranda wants to maybe wait for budget time and dept heads can work out more ones for employees by cutting elsewhere. 
Patty says the potential problem is different raises for different people across departments and everyone knows. Benefit to a salary survey and schedules is that someone qualified for a better paying position by merit can apply for that. 
Judge agrees that the Sheriff secretary job is a special position.
Patty agrees that within departments there may be different positions. 
Katie Sanchez mentions that secretary for sheriff does paperwork for grant compliance as well as regular work. Sheriff says that he does not have a candidate yet for this position when Aranda asks.
Aranda says the County has been facing this problem for years. We should possibly compare pay scales with other counties in the area to try to be at least similar.
Patty says that a salary survey usually takes local pay into account and some regional pay into account for certain jobs. Mostly interdepartmental and within Presidio County area.
Most hires are coming from within the County because of the distances involved. 
Aranda wants to look into surveys, this has come up since he started. He wants to be fair.
Computer erased text of next ten minutes.
Hernandez motions for fourteen per hour, Bentley and Vasquez say no, judge is tie breaker. 
Shanna's new job at city pays $14.50/hr. 
Judge breaks tie and votes for fourteen dollar per hour. 
Passes at $14/hour.

Item 17: Rio Grande Council of Governments item. Judge asks to postpone, not all documents ready.

Item 18: 
Presidio county flood damage ordinance.
There are flood plain areas in both Presidio and Marfa area. No ordinance in place restricting construction standards for floodplain construction. State wants this done before end of June. 
Fine amount for violations would be $250.
County judge or designee would inspect and determine violation. 
Discussion about people in Presidio area being taken advantage of by being sold property and property being misrepresented.
State water code requires this. Aranda wants to know what fee schedule for permit would be. Judge says that permit fee would be around fifty dollars. Ruben Carrasco has regulations, and once the County starts asking for money people are going to expect some legal action when rules are broken. Commissioners court sets the fee rate. Texas Water Development Board drafted ordinance.
Vasquez moves to adopt. Unanimous.
Ruben says the county at one time adopted a code for subdivision rules. Creates model subdivision rules unless other deed restriction submitted on deed. 
Says most problems are due to lack of enforcement by County.

Back to item 9: 
County treasurers report:
Frances Garcia. 
May ten to June twelfth.
Gives figures. Bank reconciliations are caught up except general fund.
Judge and Frances discuss bank balances. Difference between balances actual and paper balances discussed. Heated about it report itemization and requirements.
Hernandez asks about fiscal overall condition. Frances says from her perspective we will be ok. Patty agrees. 
Hernandez satisfied with answer.
Accepted unanimously.

Bills: submitted by Treasurer 

Approved

Office of Management and Budget
Katie Sanchez reports: 
May 9- June 12
Checks written 446,000
Still need 319,000 approved. Additional $18,000 received.
City of Marfa has not paid law enforcement balance. County sent letter.
On city agenda tonight.
Sheriff dept phone bill last month was $9600. Usually about $3000.
Patty says jail is big user of phones. Says ATT billing is scattershot, includes pieces of other months. Up and down, confirmed this with ATT. 
Inventory items are not all in the right places. Need to move some things around.
HVAC bids: there is a 1.2 million dollar spread between bids. Three bidders. Going to schedule interviews. Currently scheduled on phones, hopefully push them back to not have phone bill. 
Committee: Loretto Vasquez, Katie, Marco Baeza from jail, Sam Cobos. Engineering firm.
Budget talks in process going well. 
Seven more depts to discuss with group committee of auditor, judge, commissioner, Katie.
Stonegarden documents submitted for overtime. Not much equipment. $280,000 over three year period submitted. 
Seventeen Stonegarden vehicles in county possession. Denied new vehicles requested due to audit of existing vehicles and lack of use/non approved use of current fleet.
Hernandez wants to know if it may be possible to get road equipment to open up roads. Katie says no, it has to be "boots to the ground" equipment.
Attempting to get defibrillators.
Maybe SHSP grant could help with road equipment.
New funding for 2017-18 CDBG grant research and proposals being worked on.
Property transfers: Aranda vehicle moving to Ruben Carrasco, Sheriff to move a vehicle to Commissioner Aranda.
Judge asks about Border Star grant, why did we not apply?
Katie says that sheriff's office administers those on their own. We may not have applied, $77,000 returned to federal govt Judge says.

Report approved unanimously 
Property transfer record  agreement approved.


Other consent agenda reports 

District Clerk report: 
$6,144 collected.
Accepted unanimously 

Facilities maintenance: golf course
Courthouse restoration crew leader from Phoenix construction walked the building and said that replacement of theses windows could cost a million dollars. Made some suggestions. Noticed that glass wall in county judge office is gone, said that it can be replaced.
Temporary employee for facilities maintenance has past temporary period, asked for him to be added to full time list. Next agenda. 

Capital projects: Ruben Carrasco. Construction of Casa Piedra road has not begun.
Sacred Heart church in Ruidosa, survey?
Yes, TXDOT is administering. 

EMS report, Marfa EMS. Bert LaGarde details how log book is kept. Times come from dispatch.
Vasquez asks about Casa Piedra road. Marfa EMS does not go past pavement. Asks people to put patients in vehicles and meet at pavement. Also, Valentine patients are brought by Jeff Davis county deputies towards marfa and meet halfway.
Jail population append area is down. Current population is 36 inmates, four county, thirty two federal. 
Reduced staffing, says Gracie Parras, jail administrator.
Unknown as to whether population will increase. Break even point is about 46. Patty says we should discuss this in budget process.
Possible contingency plans re: staffing.
Aranda asks about inmate load and seasonality of population numbers. 
Most federal inmates are illegals.

Consent agenda items approved unanimously.

Adjourn at 3:15 PM
















Thursday, June 01, 2017

County teeters toward open meetings violation « Big Bend Now

I believe the County Attorney's interpretation of what's permitted under the Texas Open Meetings Act to be incorrect. I would caution commissioners court to be very careful in the future. If there is an open meetings act violation of this sort again, I will contact the Attorney General for an opinion.

County teeters toward open meetings violation « Big Bend Now