Her are my notes from this meeting.
More posts next week... Have a great weekend! -DB
Presidio County Commissioners Court Meeting, Wednesday October 11th, 2016, 9:30 AM, Marfa, Presidio County Courthouse.
Commissioners present: Eloy Aranda, Judge Guevara, Loretto Vasquez, Lorenzo Hernandez.
Carlos Nieto: general comment. Wants to thank commissioners court for helping the City of Presidio on the Annex renovations. Thanks Sam Cobos for hiring locals and doing a great job.
Announcements from Judge and commissioners:
Judge says that top priority today is Candelaria water system. Mentions new format for agenda, do commissioners like it? Aranda says the larger print is better and feels like it is clearer. Judge says that hopefully a more organized agenda will help the meetings go more efficiently.
Commissioner Hernandez says that the Presidio airport is closed for resurfacing. 7-10 days should be complete according to Carlos Nieto. Much needed, will be a great help and is worth the investment.
Item 6- Fiscal Year 2015 outside audit by Doak Painter.
Says he enjoys working with county employees and dept heads. Says the report is quite improved and much progress has been made.
Qualified opinion this year. Basis for qualified opinion is opening balances are not possibly exact due to last year's adverse opinion.
Net position increased by over $300,000.
$248,000 in reduced expenditures than prior year.
$226,000 surplus in revenues over expectations.
Year to year comparison on page 5 shows vast improvement.
Net position. Assets are now accounted for.
Net pension plan asset as opposed to liability. Fully funded plus small surplus.
Overall position is improved. Jail operations went well.
Notes: standard notes, basic info.
Grant monies are no longer co-mingled, now in their individual funds.
Pg 46- auditor's notes/opinions.
Single Audit: pg 48
Only finding is that audit is slightly late due to single audit requirement. Next year single audit early due date will not apply, so this finding should go away.
Doak sees better flow of information, better controls by all fiduciary offices in the County. County is going in the right direction.
Audit will be uploaded onto County website.
Aranda thanks Painter for coming in and making visits to help commissioners get direction to fix these problems. Thanks all financial departments.
Painter says it makes his job easier if he is informed throughout the year.
Aranda wants to know what the goal is for next year. Painter says it is very possible to get an unqualified opinion next year.
Judge commends the commissioners for their work. Also says that having an OMB dept has helped despite the criticism of adding more payroll and employees. Says there is so much Red tape these days, it is necessary and is working.
Auditor on site and treasurer's office have done a great job.
Hernandez asks for comments from financial team.
Auditor Patty Roach says that the fact that we have the best possible opinion this year we could have had is huge. Resolved fourteen deficiencies. Huge deal. Commends the treasurer's office and OMB for making this happen. Goal of unqualified next year is attainable.
Frances Garcia thanks Doak, Patty and Katie for doing a great job.
Katie thanks Doak for the guidance. Especially thanks commissioners court for having OMB and also treasurer and auditor.
Judge asks for applause for all financial departments. Applause.
End of presentation. Vote to approve. Aranda moves. Seconded by Vasquez. Unanimous.
Presentation on Candelaria public water system from TCEQ.
Dorothy Young from Water supply at TCEQ. Water supply Corp at Candelaria is not doing Ellie right now. She brought eight team workers to help present a plan to bring it back.
Number of reps introduce themselves from various companies and agencies.
Explains what a public water system is. Water system has to have fifteen connections or serve 25 people over the course of a year. Candelaria is one.
TCEQ looks at water quality, monitoring reports. Inspections, physical specs.
Candelaria has problems on both sides of this equation.
Conference call with some Austin TDA people begins...
A water system needs some form of management. Towns, water supply corps, privately owned water corps. Needs a certified operator. Customers have to be willing to pay their bills.
Five challenges with Candelaria
No certified operator
Only 28 connections
Arsenic in the ground water
Unknown system specs.
System built around 2000, unknown what it is.
There is some funding. Colonias funding, but funding must be administered.
Operators are generally not able to be funded except out of rates. Funding agencies can pay for planning, infrastructure.
EPA, USDA, TDA all have funding, all have paperwork requirements.
Hernandez says that there is a person in Presidio who just resigned from the City who may be perfect. Used to be the Presidio water superintendent. Carlos Nieto says that Mr. Acosta has all the licenses, probably going to move outside the community but it would be worthwhile to pursue him, a great asset.
Dorothy Young says that regardless, there still has to be a sponsor/organization.
Recent arsenic rule changes make things a little different. Nieto says that Shafter is also a place of interest that needs a water supply system.
Hernandez will try to get Mr Acosta on the phone to accompany the regulators on their site visit tomorrow. Says that he thinks the County will have to get involved in this a spearhead the effort. Probably going to have to run this program.
Young says most of the violations are paperwork related.
Hernandez says that there used to be a person who worked for the City of Presidio who would do that work for Candelaria on a part time basis. Nieto says that we can find the will between the city and county to do this, but the agencies need to bring us funding since we are in the absence of money.
Young says that day to day operations usually have to come from rates.
Hernandez says that he believes that there are more likely fifty to eighty customers. Multiple connections on individual meters. Need more meters, and maps are missing when he asked for maps. Possibly forty meters installed initially.
Young says that meters are key to long term viability. All customers must understand that water costs money and the water system relies on that to survive. Public assistance can help individuals help pay their bills rather than just not collecting.
Engineers without Borders may be able to assist.
Aranda says that with regard to Candelaria, multiple connections on one meter may be able to be addressed with a community block grant. Commissioners court will have to be in charge of being sure that the company is run properly. The meters are the most important issue at this point. Older residents used to run it but they are too old and others are not interested.
Hernandez said that they formed a board back in Dec and got letters from TCEQ so they got scared and backed off. It was a misunderstanding. Young says that the letters are required. Hernandez says he knows, but they got scared nonetheless.
Young says that has happened other places before. The arsenic violations require the letters to be sent regardless of whether progress is being made, etc. she recommends a brand new name and corporation with communication with TCEQ enforcement.
Young says that letters need to also be sent to the county or another sponsor so they are not returned, because that is an additional violation.
Hernandez says that yes, what we need is an education here.
It is unknown whether there is still even a board in place there. Stormy Noble quit after receiving a letter from TCEQ. Several others may or may not be interested.
Young still recommends a new organization, new name.
Reps make offer to help form the sponsoring organization at no cost to County.
Young says that is Nueces County has stepped in and helped out and it has been a tremendous help to getting into compliance.
Judge Guevara recommends a town hall meeting in Candelaria may be necessary to get everyone on the same page and see who is interested.
Young says that many of these people are willing to come back to assist, understands this is not going to be resolved with just a visit tomorrow to the site.
Rep from TWDB says until a administrative structure is in place, their hands are tied as far as loans, funding.
End of presentation., Judge will have lunch with group at Noon
Item 8- bid for Redford water supply improvements, TXCDBG.
Judge would like to move on to Item 19-
Item 19- Junie Villareal addresses court:
Addresses commissioners on two questions.
First: why county officials were on his property in Antelope Hills
Second: Why county officials were refusing to allow AEP to do their job hooking up power to his water well, which had been approved by the County.
Judge says that a resident said that an RV Park was being built. Said paperwork approved was for residential.
Judge and Mitch Garcia went out there to see what was going on. Jim White also came and Ruben Carrasco also came to see. Junie then showed up and was offended.
Judge has already apologized to Junie.
Says she asked AEP to hold off on final hookup until county could investigate.
Ruben said everything is right except for septic permit, which could be fixed rapidly.
AEP informed that work could resume the following morning.
Judge says that Junie has come every year to do the lighting at the courthouse for free. County owes him an apology. Junie thanks the court.
Beebe raises hand and is called on. Says that he thinks the County needs to stay out of any deed restriction/land covenant disputes in Antelope Hills. Property was developed by Orton with deed restrictions as a sort of exclusive community, economy went south, she sold out on the cheap to others, since then people have been breaking the restrictions, including many of the people who complain when others break the rules. Simple fact is that once deed restrictions are not enforced on one property, they no longer apply to other properties around there. This is an issue for the landowners to sue each other and not for the County to decide or enforce in unincorporated area of the County. Antelope Hills can't have it both ways, should either be annexed by city of Marfa or live with the fact the County has no zoning authority. And, by the way, if the County is looking for more affordable housing options, why is this area supposedly off limits? The really cool and amazing industrial goat milk farm out there is great, but certainly not residential, why not a trailer park? Not the county's issue. These people need to go into their own litigation and we should not be involved in their bickering beyond criminal activity. Junie mentions that just a day before someone destroyed his new water well, after this incident. Judge agrees this is a separate criminal issue and needs to be dealt with.
Teresa Todd from Jeff Davis County for emergency services. Item 13- agreement for emergency services between Jeff Davis County and Presidio County. Jeff Davis county initiated this agreement.
Basic agreement is to engage services of Jeff Davis County ambulance at $22.50 per mile. Jeff Davis County's medics excepting director are all volunteers. Volunteers are taking time off from family or work to take calls. Jeff Davis County is not in the hospital district and billing is not always sufficient to cover costs especially for long distances on dirt roads. Rate is same Jeff Davis County charges whenever insurance is billed.
Port of Entry calls are excluded from this contract. Calls will be billed based on mileage, regardless of transport or no transport. Port of entry will also be billed separately. If third party pays the bill eventually, monies will be refunded to Presidio County. Volunteer medics will receive a small stipend.
City of Presidio and Jeff Davis County have a mutual aid agreement. County does not have their own ambulance, so a mutual aid agreement is not possible.
City of Marfa and Jeff Davis County also have a mutual aid agreement which is based more on reciprocity rather than direct billing. Marfa city ambulance covers all Valentine calls first. In 2014 there were four calls, 2015 there were two calls, and there has been one call in 2016 to Presidio County.
Judge is happy that numbers have been provided. Judge says that county atty and herself are happy with this contract. Hernandez wants to make sure that John and Teresa have discussed this. Teresa says yes, but commissioners are in charge of this decision.
Vasquez asks about Port of Entry. Teresa says she has an agreement she will present to CBP and they will either engage with Jeff Davis County or not. No agreement yet.
Hernandez has questions about that, why not City of Presidio as well? Teresa says she does not think that has been addressed yet. Could set a precedent.
Protocols at County Dispatch are followed with regard to which ambulance gets called first. Based on location.
Motion to approve: Aranda. Second: Vasquez. Unanimous
Item 8 and 9: Redford water supply. Ramon Carrasco not here to present, asked for items to be tabled until next meeting.
Aranda says that he knows that Ramon met with water supply Corp on Sat and everyone is moving forward.
Barbara Baskin says that meeting times were confused and there was a question on repairs to service pipes. Ramon said that repair would be done by contractor over entire project at first. By end of meeting he said county would do the work.
Aranda wants to know how many leaks there were. Barbara says uncertain but leaks were located. Estimated that half the water pumped has gone into the ground for a number of years.
Barbara says that she still has a question as to who is doing the work, since grant specifies that repairs must be done by contractors. Also, new meters are required for both wells and she does not see that in the proposal.
Both wells will be rehabilitated.
Lorenzo motions to table eight and nine.
Seconded by Vasquez. Unanimous.
Item 10- commissioners court rules and procedures:
Judge wants to amend rules to include changes. Clarification on regular meeting verbiage. Special meetings can always be called, as always.
Requests for agenda items should be turned in to County Judge's office by Thursday before a meeting. Patty Roach agrees that with the current late turn in time on Fridays for agenda items she gets crunched for time to research items pertinent to her office while other offices are open.
Vasquez wants to know if there could be emergency exceptions to the time constraints. Hernandez agrees that if there is an emergency we should make an exception and add it on Friday. Judge says, yes, of course if it is pressing. We can be flexible.
Patty Roach says that wording can say five on Thursday with emergency items considered for later submission.
Public participation form: form submitted to presiding officer (County Judge)
Question as to whether to require written reports in advance as well...
Motion to accept changes made by Judge Guevara. Seconded by Aranda.
Item 11- contract for tax assessor collection services between City of Presidio and Presidio County.
Judge says that County Atty is in agreement with the proposed contract. City of Presidio is in agreement.
Carlos Nieto speaks. Says that both items 11 and 12 have been discussed and agreed upon by attorneys and tax assessor. Payment plan has been agreed upon.
Also, on Monday the new City Administrator Joe Portillo who could not be here today will be present at the next commissioners court meeting and will be an asset.
Aranda motions to approve. Seconded by Vasquez. Unanimous
Item 12- motion to approve by Hernandez (past debt agreement) unanimous.
Item 13- already addressed earlier
Item 14- Fort Davis Fire Academy to use old taxiway at Marfa airport for training.
Gary Mitschke presents that this is an annual school and permission to use closed taxiway on Saturday. He will coordinate with Chase on airport traffic. Gary will personally be there and Chase knows about this based on email sent by Gary.
Permission has been granted every year.
Motion to approve by Hernandez, seconded by Aranda. Unanimous
Item 15- Presidio County Asset Management assign to OMB. Judge explains that since assets and grants are so closely linked this makes sense. Treasurer is on board. Aranda moves, unanimous
Item 16- Presidio County Driver Vehicle Policy:
Katie Sanchez says that county auditor recommended that ports should go to treasurer's office and mileage log slight change.
Item 17- RFQ for process in hiring engineer for complete HVAC renovation of Presidio County Jail.
Katie says that requests for architects was fruitless. Tried twice. Try for engineer instead. Linked to item 18.
Vasquez moves to approve RFQ for engineer. Seconded by Hernandez. Unanimous.
Item 18- Request for Qualifications to hire engineer. Hernandez moves, seconded by Judge. Unanimous
Item 19- already taken care of earlier
Item 20- Marfa airport pavement markings bids:
Katie says no qualified bids received. Too many strings attached.
Chase not here to present. Same company is doing painting in Presidio right now. Bid from that company is $18,000.00. Has potential strings attached but Chase wants it approved.
Frances says that Chase says it will be cheaper this way since they are already here.
Motion to approve that bid by Vasquez, Aranda seconds. Unanimous
Item 21- 11 Res-Q ladder emergency escape ladders for Presidio County Courthouse from Fire Escape Systems. $3,077.00
Frances did run it by the Historical Commission. Sam Cobos says that he and Gary have been discussing this for a year. Patty Roach says that if these monies come from incentive funds we will have to make a budget amendment. Future meeting. Item to be tabled until next meeting. Gary Mitschke adds that this is a last resort escape route. Fire Dept does not have a ladder big enough to reach the third floor. Highly recommended by him.
Consent Agenda Items:
Item 22- county auditor items:
Patty Roach: results of 2015 audit are good. She is very pleased.
Next audit is coming. Two months to wrap up 2016 books. Goal is to have everything done by end of Dec. Turn in to outside auditor in Jan.
New fiscal year has started, going pretty well.
Aranda commends county financial depts for audit and is glad that the various agencies from the state and federal were here earlier to hear the good reports.
Patty says that internal controls have dramatically improved.
Vasquez asks how many audits will it take to be released from being penalized by Judge Ferguson? Patty says when will he get rid of me? Patty says that may never truly happen.
Good audits will affect bond ratings.
Doubtful he will ever release the county auditor position.
Patty also says that line item transfers will be funneled to auditors office and will get through her to commissioners.
Aranda asks about a five year plan, can we talk about it soon, or when is a good time?
Patty says she is not sure that needs to be an action item. Could be just a direction.
Five year plan would involve large capital expenditures, not small things like computers, etc.
Hernandez asks about a potential committee. Patty says maybe that would work or as part of a long term budget process informally involving everyone.
End of report.
Frances thanks Patty, Katie and the commissioners. Things are getting better and better.
Reports this month's numbers. Hernandez wants to know if we closed out the year in good shape. Frances and Patty say we are still getting bills, in two months we will have solid numbers with a hard close.
Katie presents expenses and numbers. Working on wrapping up bank reconciliations.
Took vehicle policy and converted to Excel.
Asset inventory getting straight with Pete Lara. Need more details on Stonegarden equipment. Exact dates, locations, etc. Hernandez asks how that is going. Katie says that we are running into hurdles and need to get all those vehicles back to the Sheriff's Office to get everything straight. Commissioners have already approved this but it has not happened. Hernandez wants to know what we can do to comply so we can get back into good graces with Stonegarden. Katie says that have financial side done, but we have to get the asset side done.
Judge says that she thinks we will need another asset inventory.
Katie says that the new for,s have more detail and we will probably need to do that.
Hernandez wants to know why we are going through all this now when for years we were never asked to do it. Unknown, true it was not done before but in 2013 they came and things were not straight and our audits were terrible for so long it raised red flags and now it has steamrolled.
Even equipment that is no longer in service must be kept and accounted for unless permission was given to dispose of it.
Mileage logs for City of Presidio vehicles gifted by Sheriff missing still and Marco Baeza has not responded after two attempts.
Hernandez says that new city administrator can work this out. Carlos Nieto says he will take a list of items back to Presidio to help clear this up.
Judge says that when they came in December we could not give them answers as to where that stuff is/was. Katie says that a lot of these items would not normally be carried in our inventory but they have to be beaches they are grant items. Smaller things such as radios and light bars would not normally be carried in asset inventory.
Regardless of whether Sheriff's office did or did not know about inventory requirements, they signed off on it on behalf of the county and we could have to return the monies unless properly accounted for.
Vasquez wants to know if Katie has been in contact with the sheriff. Joel Nunez has been communicating, Shanna was out of town last week. Charger was taken to El Paso to be repaired; equipment reinstalled.
End of report.
Judge asks commissioners to look over additional reports and any single report that commissioners want to discuss can be brought up.
Commissioners read over various reports.
Hernandez wants to know who else gets these reports. Patty and Frances get a few of them. Judge says that they are permanently on file in the clerk's office once approved.
Ruben Carrasco says he received an email from the oil spill investigation company for spill in City of Presidio saying that everything the county did to alleviate the problem was OK. Waiting on TCEQ to contact him with further info.
Aranda makes motion to approve the Consent agenda items. Seconded by Vasquez. Unanimous
Item 42- line item transfers
Some are carry over from previous fiscal year. Others new for 2017 budget.
Item 43- Bills and expenses:
Item 44- Adjourn.