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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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 Heard that money may be spent on a drone, says that technology will be outdated quickly, encourages long term thinking.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
















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