These are my notes, unedited, taken during the meeting; much like a form of shorthand. They may be incomplete.
Presidio County Commissioners Court 8/11/2015
Present: White, Vasquez, Hernandez, Judge Guevara, Aranda, Co Atty Fowlkes
County Judge's comments:
Rules of Commissioners Court
Court members may shorten or lengthen public comments. Members of he public shall conduct themselves with proper respect and decorum in addressing commissioners court. Court has power of invoking contempt of court. It is not a public forum for the demeaning of any group. Including insulting commissioners court. Goes into detail on potential sanctions. Rules will be followed.
Budget. Judge has been working on budget. Individual budgets are nearly complete. Jail budgets are nearly done. Jail A/C repair still waiting on bids.
Should have proposed budget by Friday and then public hearings can commence.
Tax assessor will be here later to discuss tax rate.
Letter to Carlos Nieto thanking him for organizing the July 28th groundbreaking event presented.
Judge references budget and Senate bill 1025. County judge annual supplement from the State. For Presidio County that is extra $10,200 towards judge's salary.
Effective June 17. Her salary increased from $52,000 to $62,000.
Texas dept of Licensing says Presidio County annex is now in compliance with state regs.
No other Commissioners announcements.
5) Golf Association update re Marfa golf course. John Fowlkes: MGA met with judge and Cobos. Current association does not comply with proper regs. For all practical purposes the MGA is not functioning. Fowlkes recommends county runs the course. Proposes to make MGA members "members of golf course" under the county. Same dues, county runs everything; proper accounting, etc. members can have an advisory member board to report to County. Hopefully. Linty moves to more automated system, accept credit cards, etc. working on bylaws for advisory board, will present to Commissioners. MGA will close account once outstanding bills a paid and county will take over. White asks a few questions, Judge says deadline is Sept 15, will come before Commissioners Court. Vasquez asks if MGA has caught up with dues owed.Frances says that they brought a check a few months back for just over $50,000. Fowlkes says there will be more to come. Vasquez says money coming in from golf course should go back into golf course. Since golf course runs at a deficit, it essentially does.
6) chili plant permit- rep from chili plant not here yet, postponed.
7) Presidio County else's land from GLO. purchase for use as airport runway extension, runway protective zone? Fowlkes says lease runs for 50 years, started in 1994, no reason to do this now. Hernandez and White say that County should buy now before water is extended to area. Predict water will extend private development and land may become hard to acquire. Fowlkes says still unnecessary. Boundaries of land discussed. White recommends tabling. Fowlkes agrees. 29 more years on lease, no price given. White tables. Unanimous.
8) recall all grant and county funded vehicles and equipment as surplus and affirm that control of items rests exclusively with Commissioners Court. White put this on agenda, says it will take time, County will have to create motor pool, etc.
Guevara says that this is one way to get ahold of our assets, as per recommendations from auditor. White says it is to address audit findings. Aranda says we need to take this first step towards getting this done. Says this audit report is very serious and that people are taking this audit lightly and that the Commissioners need to step it up. Seconds White's motion to accept agenda item. White repeats motion as written on agenda. Orders treasurer to retrieve all titles and title everything to Presidio County. Unanimous.
9) County health and dental insurance presentation my Mindy Seahorn. From TAC.
She is broker on account. Renewal is Dec 1st. Cost for current benefits will rise. $600 deductible, 90% benefit after deductible. $3000 max out of pocket costs. $30 co-pay. Fowlkes brings up that some doctors at Big Bend Regional Hospital are not in Blue Cross network, although hospital is. Mindy recommends checking with BCBSTX, says she hasn't heard this before. Rates go up 5.1% increase. Average for TAC was 7%. $564 per employee. No benefit changes rates become effective Dec 1 for 12 month term. Grandfathered plan to Affordable Care Act. Keeps costs down a bit. Any surplus in the TAC program is returned to Counties. In 2014 TAC returned $9400 from TAC program. Dental plan: no change in rates, $16 per employee. Very low. Deadline for renewal is Oct 12 on both plans. Brought vision benefit rates from Emeritus insurance group. Not previously available. Two choices, county can pay or employees can pay on their own and opt-in. If county pays, each employee runs $6.72/ month. Employee basis would be $8.56. Vision benefits mean using in-network provider. Lenses or contact lenses in a 12 month period. One per 12 month. Discounted extras on lens coatings. Contacts and lenses $25 co-pay. Once every 24 months for contacts. White asks question re health care. Total increase $1074/month to County. Hernandez makes comment that City of Presidio employees are having a hard time with insurance, but he used this insurance and had no problem. White says Commissioners should consider adding vision coverage. Judge says she would like to see what employees would prefer, look at budget, come back to this as County gets further along with budget. Tentatively set a date for presentation again early Oct. White makes motion to renew the medical insurance and dental insurance now and pursue the vision side later. Unanimous.
Back to item number 6, chili processing plant permit.
Presenting: Edward Martininez. Has handouts for commissioners.
On behalf of V&L investments. Facility to be located west of Presidio. Site would be approx 12 miles from Presidio on HWY 170. Chili processing plant. Family out of Las Cruces, currently operate chili plants in Las Cruces. Want to locate plant here because a lot of chilis they process already come out of Ojinaga. Pipeline location makes plant possible. Pipeline to be completed in 2017. Plant wants to start construction in about a month. Hopefully producing by Oct 2016. 50-60 employees during production season. Outside of production season approx 5-8 employees. Production between Oct to March yearly. Includes loading, unloading, processing, packing, maintenance. Hourly wages between 10-15 dollars an hour. White wants to know how much ad valorem tax this may generate. Martinez does not know but says cost to build plant will be between 3 and 4 million to complete. Plant acreage is about 5 acres. Hernandez visited one in Las Cruces, wants to know if plant will be similar. Martinez says it will be nearly identical. Fowlkes wants to know more about permit application. Martinez says they want special use permit to allow for the use of a chili plant. Fowlkes says he doesn't know why a permit would be required since they are not looking for an abatement. White encourages building of chili plant, but unsure of what they are asking for. Vasquez asks about water. Martinez says location is set by pipeline proximity, water well will be drilled. Says pipeline operators says it may take 3-4 years to get pipeline into city of Presidio, since Hernandez says he would like to see them inside city limits. Martinez says that they can run off propane for a year or so,but that it's cost prohibitive to run on propane for more than that time. Access to natural gas is key factor in deciding on this project as a whole. Court offers support, asks if there needs to be a motion, etc and if so what for. Aranda says that the Court welcomes you. End of presentation.
10 minute break as per Judge Guevara at 10:11 AM.
10) Effective tax rate calculation. Norma Arroyo presents. Not here at this point, running late. Postponed.
11) courthouse security. Tabled by White.
12) Budget policy discussion. Judge says she would like to give raises to people who didn't get them last year. Wants to discuss general budget policy, input on how to create this budget. Budget priorities. Potential for contingency fund. Would like to have a contingency line item in each department. Judge says our tax rate is likely to go down while collections will go up. Aranda says that over the years this Commissioners Court has been lowering tax rate by small amounts and that we are fortunate to be able to do that. Judge says we are doing well compared to other counties. Item tabled, possible to come back to it after Norma presents. Hernandez wants clarification on what this agenda item is about. White says it's to get a general idea of priorities for this year's budget. Approximately $400,000 more to be available for next budget over this year's. Judge is working on three budget concepts, 0%, 7% and 10% increases for employees. Judge wants to have first draft done by this Friday. Will be scheduling budget workshops starting next week. Tabled.
13) West Heights land to City of Marfa. Perdue recommends. Land was sold at tax auction, deed was not done properly. Aranda makes motion to convey lots. Unanimous.
14) Action as appropriate to deal with abandoned mobile home located near water pump station. Ruben Carrasco to remove. Already had a resolution on this in past. Halpern says this is in Sal Si Puedes. Says there is a salvage person in the neighborhood. Danny Watts' brother. Aranda says at may be easiest.
15) Proposal by Klotz Associates to provide engineering services at Marfa airport re TXDOT grant. White says he has read, spoke to Chase. Says most economical and prudent thing is to continue with patch and repair with local TXDOT from ramp funding and the. Getting better improvements later when there is more clarity. Funding not as simple as it initially appeared. This regards the proposal to fix the taxiway, but it shortens the runway. Approx $400,000 in engineering alone. Whole runway needs to be rebuilt. 2019 on schedule for full rebuild where you don't have to shorten the runway (high altitude landings need more runway). Short term remedy to continue patching with TXDOT at $3000/ day. Will continue discussion when Chase gets to meeting in a bit...
16) hiring three new deputies for Sheriff's Office with one hired by City of Marfa. Judge says this is preliminary and needs to be postponed until budgeting is further along. White agrees that more budget clarity is needed. No contract from the City of Marfa at this point. Judge motions to take no action on this item. Unanimous.
17) Assigning new deputies to south County. Judge makes motion for no action. Unanimous.
18) Discussion with action as appropriate to hire one temporary employee for Vizcaino park and one temp for Redford School facility. $325 for Redford employee. North parks similar. White makes motion to approve. Unanimous.
Chase arrives- back to item 15- airports.
Chase says that it's not wise to do this at this time. Feb 2014 rules changed with regard to taxiways intersecting runways. Now prohibited, new taxiway would have to be built. Going to cost a lot, lighting project need to be completed frogs, and runway will still need to be rebuilt. Prudent to do the taxiway repairs at the same time as the runway rebuild. Patching a better option for now, not the solution in the long term, but can be changed if things get worse. Commissioners opt for no action on this item.
Judge would like to have treasurers and OMB reports be consecutive. Would like to wait for Norma as well.
County and District Courts now.
$10,000 collected from County Court. Retained approx $8000
District collected just over $1000.
Facilities manager: Cobos says he will meet with each commissioner re budget.
JP 1 report.
Emergency management report:
Gary M- grant to update dispatch console in progress. Hoping for approval. Once board replaced, Presidio should be able to be radio integrated instead of having to use cell phones. Hernandez asks about funds for fire departments. Gary says for the next few years communications equipment still needs upgrades first. Last few years over $700,000 of equipment brought in through grants. Benefits both cities and county as a whole. The dispatch improvements will greatly help The Presidio area. Aranda asks about fire trucks in Presidio. Gary does not know , says Marfa VFD is in pretty good shape. Judge asks why state of the art console? Gary says paging system is needed. New repeater was a step, but current console could not be re-programmed for paging out. Presidio still been using cell phones. White wants to know if rent has been paid to McBride for repeater station. Gary says he hopes so, rent is now paid annually, he thinks. It's part of the Emergency management budget.
county extension agent- report accepted.
Returning back to item 10 as Norma has arrived
Norma Arroyo re Effective Tax Rate Calculation:
Says county has increased tax values.
.59893 is effective tax rate
$415,261 extra over last year at effective rate.
.63804 tax rate for last year.
If effective tax rate is approved, no need for public hearings. Can go higher if you want public hearings. White asks for rollback rate
.63455 is rollback rate.
Aranda asks for more info. Arroyo says fetched rate is really good, she is advocating for keeping effective rate. Vasquez says hopefully they won't have to raise it. Hernandez says we can look at it after budget is finished and decide. May have to raise it or keep it. Either way, it's good news. White mentions that potential raise in rate could fund raises for employees plus provide for contingency. No action taken
Back to Administrative Session:
Internal Auditor Patty Roach. Says addressing 2014 audit findings. Jail trust funds and commissary funds have been addressed with Gracie and Sheriff. Staff reporting to OMB monthly. Much progress. Recommendation to Sheriff to get some software for S.O. Jail has software but Sheriff is using manual checks, reconciling them. Software would make things easier, more up to date. Jail fund annual sales tax reports have been submitted for 2012, 2013 and 2014. Comptroller says reporting will be yearly, not monthly.
No progress on purchasing policies, re items above $50,000 needing county judge's signature. Policy needs to be amended by Commissioners to require signature by Judge.
As of Oct 1st of last year, inter fund journal entries are mostly up to date.
Capital assets: meeting with treasurer tomorrow re accenting system for assets. RCI lists plus cost/depreciation lists. Reports need to be merged. Financial and capital asset systems need to be in agreement.
General fund is reconciled through July 2015- major progress.
Rest of funds reconciled through June 2015, some difficulties with payroll fund, need to iron out.
Grant reconciliation: single audit issue. Always been late, doing month end procedures will get this closer to being on time. Need to develop a year end procedure on getting single audit together.
Commissioner Aranda is happy about progress. Asks about outside auditor coming in soon and seeing progress. Wants potential " modified opinion" which would be the begs we could get for 2015. Shooting for that. Same as Qualified opinion. Patty says this is possible. Capital assets still going to be a problem. Being addressed by Commissioners Court with today's actions re vehicles and equipment and also by scheduling "asset days". First one coming up August 20, 2015.
Vasquez asks if it's too late to pursue Stonegarden grants for 2015. Additional $365,800 allocated for 2015 under existing grants plus $350,000 unused from 2014. White says we have to get a grant administrator first, get ahold of general issues.
OMB Katie Sanchez- says Patty pretty much went over most of what they've been doing. Short $10,000 only on grant reimbursements. Bank accounts have all been reconciled. Balances presented through July 31st. Hernandez asks how much we are due from Stonegarden. Katie says that all Stonegarden has been reimbursed,grant is closed. Only HSI grant open is Presidential Permit.
Aranda commends Sanchez for doing a great job, as does judge. Thanks her for doing so week, and also treasurer. Approved unanimously
Tax returns finished for golf course and also for jail funds. Has not received golf course monies yet, but paperwork is done. Approved unanimously.
20) Line item transfers -
Facilities manager asking for transfer from salaried custodians to repairs and maintenance. $7000 +/-. Mower repairs, greens maintenance. Lawn mower motor went out. $1900 for new motor. Have old mower they are using for now, not particularly adequate. Greens mower, specific to greens. Unanimous
$2000 from head of dept to repairs and maintenance in facilities. List of small items that need to be purchased. Unanimous.
21) County bills and expenses-
Chase requests 2,928 dollars to be added to bills for patching. Estimate came late, payment to Austin for TXDOT to be forwarded, TXDOT crew will finish patch on runway tomorrow if approved.
White asks Cobos about fire extinguisher inspections. Cobos says last inspected 2013. Golf course extinguishers very old, need replacements. None at Vizcaino near gas tanks, needed. Need some for attic of courthouse, 2 more for offices that don't have them. Fire extinguisher guy is now under Cobos' supervision. After sketchy bill in Presidio for unattended work. Cobos taking care of situation.
Virgie brings another bill for $166.67 for clerk expenses.
Bills approved with addition of extra bills. As noted. Unanimous.
22) Approve minutes of previous meetings. Unanimous.