Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Notes from Presidio County Commissioners Court Meeting 3/23/2016 9:30 AM, Presidio County Annex Food Pantry Building, Presidio TX

Presidio County Commissioners Court Special Meeting March 23rd, 2016, 9:30 AM, Presidio County Annex Food Pantry Building, Presidio, TX

Present: Jim White, Loretto Vasquez, Eloy Aranda, Cinderela Guevara, Lorenzo Hernandez

Called to order at 9:43 AM

Public comments:

Judge and commissioners announcements:
Judge Guevara says that Larry Lunsford came to her after meeting to apologize for springing the purchase of the golf course on them. Says investors would like to meet directly with Judge. Says that they would build casitas on the property if land was sold to them. Housing shortage.
Aranda says that property would have to be auctioned, bids, etc. Get the County Attorney involved. If property is to be sold, the County needs to get a professional appraisal of the golf course. Golf course was built by hand by people in Marfa, we need to be really careful. Judge says that he is right, we need to be sure we protect the County first and look very carefully. There has been at least one other person interested in redoing the golf course. All this will have to be put out for bid, and we will have to be very careful. Commissioner Vasquez says he has gotten a lot of calls against sale of land. 
Jim White says that he has gotten complaints about children running around the Marfa airport, all along the runways et al, and commissioners court will need to deal with this. 
Hernandez says that we have heard about this before and done nothing, it is time for us to do something. White agrees, we really do not want to get anyone hurt. That is the main issue. Judge says that she can call them into her office and tell the kids themselves. Offers to take care of this with Chase today. Agreed between Chase and Judge that they will speak to the kids tomorrow and take care of this. 

Item 6- 2015 TCDBG proposals. Commissioners have had packets to rank and score. Tabled for a bit while Commissioner Vasquez completes his survey.

Issue with tape recorder. It turned off. Virgie resets it. 

Item 7- 
Maximum lodging and meal rates for Presidio County Employees (training sessions, etc)
Patty Roach explained that we are currently at $42, maximum is $46. After that it is taxable to the County. Katie Sanchez gives clarity on advances versus reimbursements. This is for advances. Reimbursements can be made on real receipts. Hernandez recommends reimbursements only, that would solve this issue. Katie agrees. Reimbursements do not include tips or alcohol. Katie says some people need advances, cannot rely on reimbursements. Aranda says advances are good. White says that receipts need to be required either way. Judge says that if you get an advance and you spend more, then you can be reimbursed the difference. France's Garcia agrees that it is. Katie says though that if you spend less, you do not have to reimburse the County. White says there is nothing wrong with paying taxes. Hernandez says that when he attends a conference, he would at least like to have the lodging paid in advance. Ketzia says that II is all up to the commissioners. She knows that we have given advances before and a few people need to reimburse the County for money that was not spent. Aranda talks about going up to $46. White says he prefers to encourage people to just rely on bringing receipts back. Judge asks if they really want to eliminate advances. Virgie says that some employees cannot afford to go somewhere without an advance. More discussion. 
Aranda talks about requiring receipts, if people do not spend the money would have to bring the receipts back and refund any excess. 
Wants to bring it up to $46, still allow advances, allow for extra reimbursement if employee goes over. Receipts required. Maximum meal per dime would be $46. 
Katie says that they need to clarify if it's for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Hernandez asks if they would have to bring back receipts if they go over or regardless. Wants to retire receipts regardless. Vasquez says he is against reimbursement if meals go over $46. Hernandez agrees. Does not apply for hotel fees, just meals. No receipts would be required. White agrees that reimbursement over $46 leaves room for abuse. Discussion about receipt requirements. 
Some questions about fairness. Agreed that reimbursement rate and advance rate will both be set at $46 maximum. Special trips to places like Washington DC could be considered on an as needed basis. Judge says that sometimes those important trips come up at the last minute and there would not be time to schedule. Katie says that they could go by the GSA recommendations and guidelines on that. Judge says that she really believes this should be studied more, and that maybe to day just raise it up $4 and come to revisit this. Hernandez says he agrees, but would rather not even raise it today. Instead come back and tackle it all at once. White says we could do trips on a more open ended deal based on where the trip would be. Chase says why not go with the GSA rates. White says we don't yet know those rates. More general discussion.
Aranda wants to study this more. White agrees. 
Judge says she doesn't see anything wrong with the $4 increase today. Vasquez agrees. Judge makes motion. Aranda seconded. Lunch is now $14 instead of ten. Approved.

Item 8- Surplus equipment: attached list. (I do not have the list, but Aranda supplied it)
Aranda says it is mostly old equipment in the way, taking up yard space. 
Ruben Carrasco presents. He and Chase went through equipment.
Made a list and where it all is
Half ton Chevy pickup, Marfa airport, very old. Trash in the back
Lots of parts, materials, been there for a long time.
Some of these things are on the RCI asset list.
Oil tank at golf course
Hernandez moves to approve the list.
White seconds. Unanimous

Item 6- TXCDBG
Admin and engineering services for Block Grant. Redford Water Supply
Scored applicants.
Katie Sanchez has tallied the points.
Will be posted on County website
Grantworks: Admin, beat out Grant Management
Engineering: Kleinman engineering beats out Frank Spencer and two others. 
Motions follow to adopt as recommended. 
Barbara Baskin has two questions. Who got this information together for the RFPs 
Also, why is the scoring the way it is, unclear as to whether it has been done before. Hernandez says that the engineer we chose as most qualified will be price negotiated with first. Baskin wants to be sure everything is covered, water has not been up to standards for quite a while. White recommends she reads the proposals. She says she has never seen that, wants to know if the contract award have anything to do with the specs of this project. Jerry Carvahal says that the grant proposal is designed around prior engineering findings (by Ramon Carrasco of Kleinman). Baskin protests a bit that the information from prior projects has never been disclosed. End of discussion.

Item 9- line item transfers
Operating supplies to uniforms for Sheriff's Dept. correction from last time, more uniform pants. Approved

Item 10-
Bills and expenses
White makes motion to accept. Seconded by Hernandez. 

Item 11- Adjourn
Adjourned at 10:41 AM

Friday, March 18, 2016

County Atty John Fowlkes and U.S. Consults LLC as reported by Big Bend Now

Article by Sasha Von Oldershausen

Notes from Presidio County Commissioners Court Meeting March 15, 2016, 9 AM, Marfa

Here are my notes from Tuesday's Commissioners Court Meeting at the courthouse in Marfa. The paper covered the meeting pretty well with several articles.
For me, the big news was the bait and switch on the proposal for a public private partnership on the Marfa Golf Course. Multiple red flags were raised for me, including a previously unannounced complete reinvention of the proposal from a lease arrangement to a purchase arrangement, statements boring on ultimatums, opaqueness regarding the investor identities, and more. I hope the citizens of Presidio County understand that land sales of public assets are forever. I am not in favor of dealing with this group. I am in favor of finding a golf course operator with or without a plan similar to what this group claims to be offering. This group, however, seems to me to be shady and I have learned that going with my own gut feelings is of value.

Here are my notes, without added opinions included:

The missing names of the golf group people presenting are Stef Rifai, who is an engineer and lead investor, and Rida Asfahani, an architect and investor. I could not hear their names well during the meeting, so had not attempted to name them incorrectly. 

Presidio County Commissioners Court Regular Meeting March 15th, 2016, 9 AM, Presidio County Courthouse, Marfa.

Meeting convened at 9:07 AM.
All present

Public comments:

Eddie Pallarez: comes to commissioners to discuss a fire that burned utility poles. Four burned to the ground, three severely damaged. Wants an affidavit to replace poles no have the person responsible to pay for the damage.
Asks for stricter rules for burn ban. 
Happened on the river in Presidio. Costs to replace poles at approx $2000 per pole. Could have been prevented and would like the County to hold the people responsible. Fire was across from the McCalls place. Eddie would like an official letter from whomever can issue it. 
Sheriff's Dept handled investigation. From AEP perspective we need to have people pay for damages individually so that everyone does not have to pay for it. 
Hernandez wants to know what AEP is asking for. Eddie says that he needs an official report of some sort to submit to claims dept. PUC covers costs through pass on surcharge to customers if individuals responsible do not cover costs.

Barbara Baskin: back to address commissioners on property issues. Says she has heard that commissioners consider her to be "just a complainer". She clarifies that she has been knowledgable about issues in Redford and with related grants. 
Re: burn ban. Did not know whom to call. Found numbers for Fire marshal and distributed it. Asks for County to republish burn ban.

Item 5- 
County Judge and commissioners announcements.
Judge: Harlan Hardy will commence going to Presidio to serve veterans and their families in March. Will go every other week on a regular basis.
Judge has been working on Stonegarden audit. Optimistic about being lifted from suspension. County officials have been cooperating. Been a big help. 

Commissioner Hernandez asks about deadline. Judge had asked for extension and got it. She has an issue with her computer capacity and programs that she does not have. File sizes for information are very large, it has been difficult. 
She is receiving help on this issue but it is taking longer. As for deadline, we are not late.  Judge says that during the investigations of equipment, logs etc she has received help from the administrators.

Commissioner Aranda: wants to ask Katie Sanchez about status of grant for BCAP grant and others. Katie says she has information, things are progressing. 

Judge asks about the PIPA meetings. Last one was in December. Hernandez says that he will find out tomorrow when he meets with people tomorrow in Chihuahua. Hernandez talked with Jake Giesbrecht last week. Judge Guevara asks is she can go to a meeting, Hernandez says it's a great idea. Aranda wants to know about TXDOT issues, permits,mets. White says environmental permit is done and turned in. Ready to go. Hernandez asks whether Jake is still working for the County on the bridge. So far Jake has not asked for money or reimbursements. Money is budgeted. Possible future agenda item. Hopefully have a PIPA meeting next week.
Judge calls attention to the new benches from the Marfa Rotary Club. Placed and dedicated last Saturday. Great addition. Rotary also donated a Four Way Test plaque. Celebration was really fun.
Next week is countywide training on Thursday. Some offices may be closed. Commissioner Vasquez providing lunch for all. Thank you.

Item 6-  Amend burn ban that removes the Presidio Valley burn exemption. White makes motion to approve. Will take effect immediately. White reminds the public that anyone starting a fire is responsible for any damages from that fire. AEP phone pole incident leads to punishment for everyone. White says that this is what we can do, people will still be irresponsible but commissioners need to do this on their end. Judge says that she was not aware that if damage to Poles was happening yearly. Hernandez says he has had concerns. Commissioners trade stories about farmers and fires getting out of control. Unanimous.

Item 7- action to approve agreement with BIg Bend National Park for emergency services. This comes up for renewal every five years. It is a mutual aid agreement. Gary Mitschke presents a synopsis of obligations and the history.
County does not have the resources and cities have some. It is doubtful that cities would be able to help, but this agreement gives everyone the ability to converse and ask for help. Commissioners bring up that since County has no resources, why are these agreements not with cities themselves? Gary says that he thinks that this is a way to get us involved to help with that. White says it's kind of a backwards way to do it. Gary says that maybe that is true, but this agreement really just gives us and them an option. Aranda says he thinks it's a good idea nonetheless. Governmental agencies having the ability to share resources in times of emergency is important. Makes motion to approve. Gary says that without a mutual aid agreement, no FEMA monies are available for reimbursements if an area is delayed a disaster area. With agreement, items can be submitted for reimbursement. Unanimous.

Item 8- Big Bend Telephone presentation regarding phone and Internet service for County. Discussion only. 
Big Bend Telephone reps are present. Formal proposal is not yet ready, but historical courthouse issues are present. Will have to do a bit more research with the Texas Historical Commission. Approximately 40 phones in Marfa, 10-12 fax lines, and network printers. They will base their proposal on those numbers. In Presidio they just got permission to operate there. Will add Presidio to proposal. Marfa facilities are courthouse, old jail, new jail and golf course. Long distance service will be included in numbers. Unlimited long distance; bill monthly will be exactly the same every month. Judge asks about issues that came up. No estimate available today? Yes, it is too hard to estimate just yet. Engineering analysis is not yet completed. Judge would like to know how much more time. Within the next month they say. Vasquez asks about unlimited calling for cell phones and hard lines. Yes, it will be unlimited calling for all devices. Hernandez asks whether the County has good numbers to compare a proposal to. Katie Sanchez says we can compare it to actual costs. Currently around $100,000 per year. Big Bend Telephone's network is far superior. File and document sharing, printer sharing. Extensions, phone call transfer, possibly all the way to Presidio. Judge says AT&T did come back with a proposal to lower current rates. County has not agreed to any deals since there is a worry about being locked in to a contract. Jim White says that it doesn't matter what the price break is, the fact is that the current system is so inefficient that it is a moot point. The fact that if you call the Judge's office and need to talk to Virgie, the Judge has to give them Virgie's office number. No transfer available. 911 service is less reliable with the AT&T lines. The whole thing needs to be upgraded. 
Vasquez asks Sheriff if deputies pay for their own cell phone. Yes, deputies cover their own phones. Big Bend Telephone does not provide cell phones. Vasquez disappointed, but says this is a separate issue for us. End of presentation. 

Item 9- Interlocal agreement between City of Marfa and Presidio County for law enforcement. Judge says everyone so far is in agreement with this. Jim White has questions. First of all, how much money is generated in traffic fines per year? Mayor Dunlap is here and says he does not know. Mayor says that ticket revenue does not cover the costs of a municipal court. Not a money maker. White says OK, revenue is not an issue. White asks Sheriff about the reports that he is required to give to the city. Dunlap says that the City would like to get a report from the Treasurer to see expenditures. White says the contract says the report is required to be from the Sheriff. Judge clarifies that the contract says the Sheriff's Office is to report all activities. White says he does not want to sign a contract if it's not going to be followed. Sheriff says he will do it, there is no issue here. Sheriff says he is happy to do it, and if we do not comply, they can bring it to his attention. Patty Roach asks if the report will be for the whole department or just for the deputies assigned to city. Sheriff says that he can't really divide them up, they work in and out of the city. Patty says she wants to know if she is going to have to separate this out. Dunlap says he is not trying to run the Sheriff's Office, it is not important to the city how the numbers are reported. The County Judge requests that the Sheriff report to the County this are information countywide. This used to occur, sheriff says "we will look at it". White says if you're willing to give it to the City, you would think that it could be shared with commissioners court. Judge agrees. Makes motion, White protests a bit. Passed. Mayor then adds at the City has been paying for this for a number of years but previous contracts were not signed by previous Judge. Money is owed for approximately 10,000 dollars from last year's contract. Says the City will write that check despite he contracts not having been signed. Thanks the Judge. Judge says that it is signed and sealed. Laughter.

Five minute break at 10:14 AM

Reconvene at 10:30.

Item 10- interlocal agreement for 83rd district attorney budget. County Attorney reviewed this and found no problems. White says he has read it and makes motion for approval. Jaime Escuder, nominee for job Democrat. Says that he would like for County to consider increasing budget next year. Small pool of possible workers with criminal law practice ability. Few law schools around here, cost of law school too high. $50,000 is a low starting salary for a young atty. Important for the people to have good representation. White says that the County has it's own issues with regard to pay. Discussion regarding Pecos County contribution. Brewster County has the most cases. Judge wants to know if Brewster County is paying their fair share. Unknown. Escuder ads it depends on whom you ask. Discussion about cases being filed, arrests, population load, etc. all can be factors and debated. Judge says that the three County judges will have to meet and discuss. Escuder says he is happy to meet with them, and opponent Sandy Wilson will be invited for input. 
Item approved unanimously.

Item 11- Dept heads required to maintain Presidio County equipment and assure that equipment is not removed from County without commissioners court approval. This is part of the corrective action plan (CAP) for the Stonegarden grant deficiencies. Katie Sanchez says that even if commissioners approve a grant funded item out of a dept the State still has to allow it. This is for grant funded items only. Hernandez says that maybe county should get permission first from State and then vote on it. Judge says that is the way the grant requirements read. Hernandez says that is the way should do it. Aranda makes motion, White seconds. Unanimous.

Item 12- Relocation of vehicle seizure lot from the airport to Vizcaino area due to complaints from local citizens. Vasquez says that even before he was elected many people complained about the way it looks and placement. He has spoken to Gary Mitschke and Ruben Carrasco about relocation and they both agree it would be better. Vasquez would also like to provide a canopy for storage of vehicles, etc to keep them out of sun. White would like to know how this stuff could be moved. Vasquez says that he has not yet talked to Sheriff about this until and unless it is approved. Judge is concerned about possible vandalism of property if items are stored way back behind the fairground. Jim White asks Chase Snodgrass what the FAA and TXDOT say about impound lots near airports. Chase says that there are compatible and incompatible uses for airport property. That one is not compatible and should pay fair market value to the airport. He does not know why the lot is there now, and it is not a problem other than the eyesore factor. He also says that he believes that land could someday could be used for hangar development. If we would like to leave it there, we can talk to TXDOT ago see if they are still there. Hernandez asks Sheriff if he has any recommendations. Sheriff says no, this is the first he has heard of it. Aranda asks about the buildings out there. Sheriff says that his dept is only responsible for what is inside the fence. Sheriff says he is fine with moving the lot elsewhere. Judge wants to know what the cost of moving the stuff and securing it would be. Hernandez wants to know if it is junk or valuable. There is some stuff that is the a County's and is valuable. Vasquez says that there are quite a few items there worth some money. Sheriff says yes, a lot of seized vehicles, county property. Judge asks auditor how this could be paid for. Patty Roach says that there will have to be room in the budget for this. Vasquez recommends taking fence with it to new storage area. White says that no. Alter what, the area needs to be cleaned. Ruben Carrasco says that some of that stuff belongs to road and bridge and some to the airport, some to Sheriff's Office. Vasquez skis Sheriff if an auction could be had in the next few months. Sheriff says no, it has to be further out since he just had one. Questions about new area. Hernandez asks White what he thinks. Since it is his precinct. White says it definitely needs to be cleaned up no matter what. Hernandez is concerned about a new eyesore near golf course. White says it does not have to be an eyesore. Road and bridge can help do the work. Talk about selling off old equipment out there. Hernandez agrees we need to take care of that. White says the first step is to agree on this and take it from there. Aranda wants to know how to get the money to do this. Patty Roach says that options are to defer on other projects already budgeted for or to reallocate funds from another budget. Vasquez advocates for getting rid of everything possible out there. That alone will help the County. Vasquez makes motion to approve and try to get funding. Aranda seconds. Unanimous.

Item 13- hiring of temporary workers in precincts. Hernandez put this on agenda. Has a question who has the authority to hire temporary workers. Katie Sanchez says that in May of 2013 that dept heads could ask county judge to approve a hire. Hernandez asks for that ability to expand that authority to commissioners. Aranda agrees. Judge reminds that the money must be within the budget. Road and bridge has a temporary helper in budget, Aranda says. Agreed by commissioners that as long as there is money available in budget that is a good process. Unanimous.

Item 14- resolution for administration and engineering providers for 2015 TCDBG. Block grant. Yesterday was deadline for proposals. Received two admin proposals and four engineering proposals. Proposals are in Katie's office and they must be ranked. Copies being made. Judge says that these are long and must be studied. She says it will take too long today to get this done, she would like to see this tabled and have everyone take them home and work on them and then make a resolution at another meeting. Deadline is thirty days from yesterday. Judge recommends meeting next week. Jerry Carvahal is here to speak. Says that implementation schedule requires that  some deadlines have already been missed. But they give you some time. This project must be under constriction by Oct 15 2016. Twelve month window. Very strict on this. Contract total is just over $168,000 all inclusive. Judge says that she thinks that meeting next Tuesday we can close this out. Jerry say that is OK, and the sooner the better. Katie asks why Jerry is getting emails. Jerry says it is because his firm, Grantworks, did the grant application. Judge says that some proposals were received at the last minute yesterday. Wednesday the 23rd of March is the date for potential meeting. Katie passes out a giant stack of binders to commissioners. Hernandez agrees that they need time to study. Judge makes motion to table. Hernandez seconds. Unanimous.

Item 15- resolution for signatures for TCDBG bank account. Jerry Carvahal says bank accounts and forms require two signatures. All bills approved by TDA and then sent to County for the last it has been typical that the County Judge and Treasurer are signatories. Brewster County has Auditor added as an additional. Aranda says that County Judge and Treasurer sound good. Hernandez asks to add Patty Roach. Aranda agrees. Judge is looking for the Resolution language. Found. Aranda makes motion authorizing Frances Garcia, Judge Guevara and Patty Roach as signatories. Seconded by Vasquez. Judge says that she would like to note that there is a typo. Is that ok if that is corrected. Yes, says all. Unanimous as amended. 

Item 16- approval of TCDBG civil rights policies. Required action for grant. Posting of non-discrimination policy in paper, etc. Follow federal civil rights regulations and policies. Boilerplate documentation from Texas Dept of Agriculture. Carvahal explains. Judge makes motion to accept. Unanimous

Item 17- proclaim April to be Fair Housing Month. Part of grant regiments with TDA. Judge makes motion. Unanimous. Barbara Baskin says she had signed up to comm et. Judge allows. Baskin says that it sounds like Grantworks had signed up for this project. Where did they get their information about well water, chlorination, etc for Redford? Jerry Carvahal says that at the time, based on the available money, prioritizing of issues had to be done and that's what they did. Baskin says that Redford is about to get shut off. TCEQ has been sending notices. Jerry wants to know if they have told TCEQ that they have a grant. Jerry was unaware. Baskin says that she did not know that he did not know. That is why the most recent water board director resigned. Aranda says they are working on this and we are trying to get things moving. Baskin says she just wants to know if this grant will get them out of potential enforcement actions by TCEQ. Chlorination is major issue. Aranda says this will take care of problem.

Judge wants to skip to item 23 on golf course proposal. 
Ok with commissioners.

Larry Lunsford presents. Brings investor/architect and engineer. Both men are investors, missing names. 
Presentation: Larry Lunsford says that at this time the golf course is not set up to be a money making outfit. Says that getting investors has Ben difficult because of the money difficulties. Discussions have been more intense over the last few weeks. 
No longer want to lease the property. Want to buy the property. 
Engineering guy says that it only makes sense to investors if property is purchased, not leased. Development with hotel and village would happen after that point. Master plan would stay the same but with some additional private residences. 
Architect guy says that everyone is on board with the concept, numbers have been difficult but if outright purchase is done, then numbers look better for "tangible results" for investment group. Hernandez says that he is concerned about the local golfers since they don't have a choice to go to a cheaper golf course around here since there is no other option. Lunsford says that grandfathering MGA members is still part of the plan. Hernandez says that not one person from the City of Presidio has been exempted from future fees. Not members. Lunsford says that they can become members at a lower price than market rate. Not as low as current MGA members. Hernandez says that travel costs from Presidio makes any additional money too expensive to deal with. Architect guy says he thinks they can figure out a way to make this work for all local golfers. We are not trying to force the locals out; this is a community based project. Hernandez says that Presidio people cannot use the golf course very often because of the distance and travel time. Lunsford says that they can make options happen. Hernandez asks Eddie Pallarez about what he has discussed with these guys. 
Eddie says that he thinks they want to keep the loyal members and he thinks they are not trying to out price anyone here. Architect guy says the intention is to provide a high class facility for everyone. There has to be a threshold where that works. Since there are few people at this point, it is easy to accommodate these folks. Engineer guy says that photo ID could be used to establish residency. 
Judge wants clarification on sell versus lease. Yes, w need to buy it. White says that this would convert a public non profit into a private for profit entity. Aranda wants to know how much property, equipment. 300 acres. What is there plus another 180 acres. 
Judge says she is a bit flabbergasted. Wants to know why purchase is better. Engineer investor says that spending ten million dollars on land you do not own does no make sense. Golf course on its own cannot make money. From investment standpoint they have to develop more. White says that one thing is you can re-sell this land if we sell. If we lease we at least have some control over what happens to it. Hernandez is also concerned. Engineer guy says we could at least maintain a guarantee that a nine hole golf course could be maintained. White says years of litigation in that case, we lose our golf course. Architect guy says that an alternative could be lease the golf course area and have remaining acreage "distributed to us" with profits invested into golf course. Hernandez wants to know what Eddie thinks. Architect guy says that there has to be some kind of give back from the County for doing this favor to Marfa. Hernandez says his job is to provide a service to the citizens, not to provide a profit to a business. White agrees. 
Engineering guy says that possibly we could lease the golf course and then buy the other 70 acres. This needs to be a world class golf course to function. Architect guy says that profit must be generated, money can be funneled back into the golf course improvements. Engineering guy says that in that case the County wins. White says that he thinks the County would be better off staying with the current. Engineering guy says he is amazed at the support of the art community. Hernandez says that he doesn't see too many artists playing golf. White says this is a decision that could resonate for decades and commissioners have to be responsible to the citizens. Engineering guy says that it would be responsible for County to do this an make improvements. White says that if it looks too good to be true, the. It probably is, so there it is.
Facilities manager Sam Cobos wants to know about acreage description. 240 for golf, and where are the rest? In the park? Lunsford says possibly Vizcaino Park but don't want to overload. 
Aranda brings up Ballroom Marfa project. Architect guy says that this is a different deal. Acquisition of the land is the "least integral part" of the project, the least expensive. Says the intention is not to trick the County into something bad. Golf course is in need of repair. This is a legitimate partnership proposal and they are just looking for some give back from the County. This deal revolves around the golf course. Pony up some land that is not being used to improve the golf course area. In our opinion this is a win win for investment group and County. Engineering guy uses an El Paso tax abatement project as an example as a County "encouraging our investors" to work in the area. What can you do for us? Judge asks for investor names. Engineering guy says he will send names in a email. Judge asks about background checks. Engineering guy says that is no problem. Architect guy says that upon execution of a contract, money will be in place. Engineering guy says that once he can show other investors a commitment from the County we can move right along. Architect g says they are just looking for options on an agreement. Judge says that she believes she can speak for the County in saying that letting go of that precious, precious land is not going to work for the County. Hernandez says he would like to look at a number of options. 
Eddie Pallarez says that we cannot continue with the status quo for another 4-5 years. Land being considered for sale is not prime acreage. Pallarez says that this is a ticking clock. White asks how he can be sure of that. Pallarez says that unless revived the future of the course cannot really work. Membership has been dropping off, getting worse as course condition deteriorates with age.
Hernandez says what we have is better than none at all. 
Architect guy reiterates high risk investment. White says he understands. 
Judge Guevara requests a town hall meeting where citizens can participate. 
Lunsford says that can happen, but we need some assurances that we could move forward. We have already put a lot of money into this. 
Hernandez says there is still concern.
Barbara Baskin comments about tax abatements messing up community developments statewide. Says that these guys say the land is the least valuable element of this, then it should not be an issue. If the land is sold, improvements will need to be taxed. White asks if they are going to be asking for tax abatements. Dodgy answers. They say they are unsure. White asks again. They say they have. To yet thought about it. Say they will probably be asking for many things. Aranda says that now that the possible deal has changed from a lease deal to a purchase deal we have to start over again. Investor guys agree and say they are hoping for that. Everything can be negotiated. Architect guy says that they want to make it work for everyone, they can have talks. Hopefully the citizens understand that right now the County spends $160,000 per year on that golf course. This will reverse that trend. Aranda advocates for a town hall type of citizens input session. Engineer guy says they have already spent $180,000 on design and engineering. 
Hernandez asks if they are willing to go to Presidio to see if there is support in Presidio for golf options there and input from golfers. Sure, they say. Lunsford says he is more than willing to do whatever it takes to let people know. Judge Guevara says she wants to have a town hall type meeting so that citizens can understand that also walking trails and open spaces will be maintained. 
Lunsford talks more about Vizcaino Park possibilities. Easy fit for maintenance. Hernandez says that it looks good to him from a County expenses standpoint. Lunsford says he thinks they can provide the solution. Engineering guy says that tax abatements for them can offset the $160,000 yearly the County spends. Architect says that maintaining the status quo really isn't a good option for anyone. Looking for a partnership, with give and take on both sides. Judge says she is hopeful. Hernandez says he really wants this to work, wants to help make this happen. Lunsford says they can throw in free golf lessons for Jim White. Laughter. Presentation over.

Break for lunch at 12:17 PM until 1:30 PM

Reconvene at 1:36 PM

Item 18- designating sewer rep to be able to assist Brewster County. This is to allow Ruben Carrasco to help Brewster County with septic licensing while they are out of pocket with certifications. Carrasco is certified. Aranda advocates for this cooperation. Ruben Carrasco advocates to assist. Unanimous

Item 19- request for proposal process approval for water at Presidio airport. OMB requested. County required to do this because number is very close and could exceed $50,000. Hernandez makes motion. Unanimous

Item 20- approve request for proposals for heating and AC at jail. Unanimous

Item 21- electric meter at Presidio airport. Needed. 2 bids. One for larger wire at $13,000. AEP said that new meter would be $5000. In budget. Unanimous

Item 22- Casa Piedra road re-route discussion only. Thomas Saunders presents. Makes road shorter, White says it is a good deal for everyone. Does away with two cattle guards. Land swap with Big Bend State Ranch Park is part of this. 
Aranda wants to know about the construction work. County wants road specs from Texas Transportation Code followed. Aranda wants neighbors to be contacted east and exactly what is happening. No cost to County. One easement for one Property owner is affected. Saunders says that easement will be extended for that landowner to new road edge. Ruben Carrasco helps present with a map showing old and proposed roadways. New road will be one and a half miles shorter, straighter, eliminates two cattle guards. Culvert work may need to be done. County specs will be followed. 
Discussion only. Needs to be reviewed by County Attorney. 

Item 24- Presidio County Court Indigent Defense Plan. Nov 23rd a resolution had been signed to receive some State grant funds for indigent defense. Compliance requires an official plan. County Attorney has not yet reviewed. Katie says they used regular templates to construct. Judge reviewed and agrees it is complaint with Texas code of criminal procedure. White recommends to approve. Approved.

Item 25- eliminate internet services not needed. JP #2. Already disconnected at house. Two in office, disconnect one. Unanimous

Item 26- Administrative Session- 
Presidio EMS report has been received, partially incomplete.
Internal Audit report-  Patty Roach- Inmate trust funds completed reconciliations. All up to date within county. Single Audit submission timeline on schedule. Transport hour issue being addressed. Financial analysis. Met with all jailers except one, all supervisors. Will be taken care of as of Friday. 
White commends Patty Roach and everyone else for getting finances up to date. Three years ago it was the opposite. Judge Guevara wants to know how long it takes to do all the bank account reconciliation. Most of the month. The County has far too many bank accounts, need to consolidate and make things simpler. Getting there. Vasquez asks about transport hours. Patty says that November transport hours will be paid as the transport hours had to be retroactively added to time sheets and affected overtime pay for some. Make up differences on pay checks. From this point forward transport hours will be included on regular time sheets. Not calculated independently anymore. 

Treasurer's Report. Cheryl Calvert presents: nearly 1.5 million received since last report. End of report. 

Office and Management and Budget: Katie needs approval for $407,000 in expenditures. $690,000 already approved and spent on other bills. 

Motion to approve district and county courts, OMB, auditor and treasurers reports.

Facilities manager: Sam Cobos. 
White motions to approve. Unanimous
Road and bridge and capital projects approved. 
Airports manager: approved
All through item "O" accepted. Sheriff submitted a report
Vasquez asks Cobos about jail facilities reports. Cobos says he made a list of items to be looked at at jail. Some regular maintenance, some larger. Gave it to Gracie Parras. Still looking for qualified maintenance person. 
Reports accepted.

Line item transfers: two. 
White asks why money from abandoned motor vehicles for uniforms. It has happened before. White wants to know if abandoned vehicle fund is just a catch all? Katie says kind of. Commissioners approve things out of it. Commissioners court is in charge of that account. Verified. About $42,000 in fund. Only $5,000 budgeted to be expended. 
Vasquez brings up that deputies pay for their own cell service. Sheriff gets one, county judge gets one. Everyone else pays for their own. Aranda wants to know how much money has been used out of abandoned vehicle fund. Patty Roach says that those funds may be restricted. Approved. Questions from Katie as to whether there is enough left in the budget.

Bills and expenses: Jim White asks Virgie why she pays $160 per month to have helper do her report. Virgie says that it is in her budget and she hires her to do it. Judge asks what line of Virgie's budget includes that. Professional services. 
Commissioners training included. Comes out to $810 per commissioner. Hernandez has questions about meals. Does he have to take the pre paid meals? Patty and Katie say he has to pay out of his own pocket if he does not eat meals included in registration. Sheet has old number with meal stipend. Old number tools $874 per commissioner. More discussion. Hernandez says he doesn't necessarily want to eat those meals if he didn't already agree to them. More conversation. Crystal Funke assures Hernandez that she went over his registration options with him. Talk about Sheriff's training bills. Numbers pretty high, Patty says that she could not get beyond the firewall on the sheriff's association website to see options, registration fees. Information provided by sheriff is only information. Commissioners can reject. Light discussion, White makes motion to approve. Unanimous

Reviewing, discussion about possible incomplete minutes. Minutes approved. Unanimous

Adjourn at 2:40 PM

Notes from Presidio County Commissioners Court Meeting March 3, 2016

Presidio County Commissioners Court Special Meeting, March 3rd, 2016. 9 AM, Presidio County Annex, Presidio, TX

County Attorney John Fowlkes present
Present: Commissioners Hernandez, Aranda, Judge Guevara
Commissioner-Elect Brenda Silva Bentley

Convene at 9:17 AM

Judge reviews several rules of Commissioners Court regarding public comments and commentary by guests during court proceedings.

Public Comments:
Mayor Ferguson: 
Had a meeting with county atty about properties on 67 N of Presidio. Fencing, etc
Also pursuing ambulance funding, will visit with City of Marfa to see how things are going.
Ferguson advocates for gentleman who wants to buy ice plant building in Presidio. (Rejected twice by commissioners court after executive sessions)
Judge says that meeting with Marfa mayor on Tues March 8th for ESD would be great. Mayor Ferguson says he will not be in town, but it interested.
Fowlkes says that County can adopt an ordinance to force landowners on 67 to erect fencing along highway. Texas Transportation Code provides for this if County adopts ordinance. Would affect all landowners with disabled vehicles, salvage yards, etc.
Aranda says that it has been an issue, if City of Presidio could run water service up to there it would be an easy way to get people to fence the areas. Ferguson says it will take quite a bit of time but that process is in the works. Aranda says that getting all that done at once would be the best way to do it. Fowlkes says that a county/city committee could be convened and could institute the fencing requirement. 
Should not be that hard to fix.
Hernandez says that he is concerned with the old mobile homes more than a fence. Fowlkes says that the fence could block the view, that's what it would be for. Hernandez is pretty sure that fence would not block that view. Wants to know if the County could go beyond a fence and actually remove the stuff. Fowlkes says highly unlikely that County could force anyone to do certain things with their land other than what is prescribed.
Aranda says that water service to the area will really help influence that area and cleaning it up. 

Gracie Parras: wants to address executive session for item 4
Transport people for jail go on transport, county is reimbursed. Then employees get paid. There is money already sitting there. Right now they are not getting paid. Asks commissioners to please fix whatever problems there are so that they can go on doing their jobs and get paid on time.

Kaija Valkonen: asks for consideration of wants by employees before commissioners decide.  Lot of times while employees are working for Marshals they use up their own comp time. Ben that way since about 2012. Ask for consideration when decision is made, wants commissioners to know they are trying to help with comp time hours, not trying to do anything wrong.

Sheriff Dominguez: he would prefer that commissioners remain in open session. He thinks his ample yes have the right to be in that session. This will be fixed today. Judge agrees that it will be fixed today. Sheriff says OK, just wants to be sure that it is fair. Judge says that's what we're here for and it will be. Sheriff says OK.

Judge Guevara: announcements: Courthouse Dome hours: flexibility for dome hours during spring break. Working with city of Marfa. Guided tours for dome for the week of spring break for most of the day long each weekday.

Judge talks about Larry Lunsford: re: golf course proposal. He has meet with well drillers from Alpine, meeting with other experts about golf course infrastructure, sprinkler systems etc. Judge met with him yesterday. Golf Association met with him. Things have gone well so far. Hernandez wants to make sure that golf association has been included. Progress on proposal is ongoing. 

Judge announces that everyone is working hard to get the Stonegarden grants fixed up and corrective action plan submitted. Hopefully very soon so that paging system can be fixed up and running properly and we can be compliance for grant funding.

Executive session at 9:40 AM. Gracie Parras and Sheriff stay for session.

Reconvene into regular session at 10:45 AM

Item 6- 
Action: Judge Guevara makes motion for Presidio County to pay $15 per hour for jail transport and record on time sheet hours. Any time sheet revisions, additions will go though County. Seconded by Hernandez.
Motion carries

Line item transfers: approved.

Bills: includes school training for jail training for Brittany Fox and Gracie Parras in Huntsville. 
Judge Guevara has training to pay for as well. 

Adjourn at 10:49 AM

Notes from Presidio County Commissioners Court 02/23/2016

Here are my somewhat abbreviated notes from Presidio County Commissioners Court. I had to leave to attend a death of a local person in Marfa. I also paused from writing while County Attorney John Fowlkes addressed the group making a presentation about taking a portion of future County revenues in exchange for "proprietary" secret information on how to make mor money for the County. I will scan in Sasha Von Oldershausen's Sentinel article that does a no job on reporting John's handling of those guys.

Presidio County Commissioners Court Meeting Tuesday Feb 23rd, 2016, 9:30 AM, Presidio County Annex, Presidio, TX.

Present: Loretto Vasquez, Jim White, Cinderela Guevara, Lorenzo Hernandez, Eloy Aranda. 
Treasurer Frances Garcia, County Clerk Virgie Pallarez, Auditor Patty Roach, OMB officer Katie Sanchez, County Attorney John Fowlkes

Convened at 9:33 AM

Public Comments:
Barbara Baskin: regarding Texas Community Block Grant Funds.
Projects she is addressing are considered to be closed, but none are functioning. Referring to the irrigation canals in the Redford area. She has been trying to pull up reporting on these past projects. No luck, notes of meetings are missing. Went to many many meetings and has had no luck making progress on theses issues.
Time called by Virgie. 
Barbara passes out invitations to see her property and the issues she is referencing.

County Judge comments: 
Received a letter saying County received indigent defense grant for $9000 already approved by Court.
Meeting tomorrow with golf course potential investor Larry Lunsford. All commissioners welcome to come to the meeting. Has not heard from him up until now. No new news, so hopefully new news tomorrow. Hernandez asks if Judge has contacted golf course advisory board to attend. Judge says no, but that is a good idea and she will contact members hen she gets back to the office. Aranda asks if a County has conducted background check. No, but White says he did research on his past and it was not very favorable. Some discussion.
Judge received a letter from jail standards saying that jail is not certified and corrective actions have been reviewed and completed.
Judge will travel to El Paso Friday to meet with VA people about Vet clinic in Marfa. She is going to meet with them to find out why and when the clinic will be opened in Marfa. Everything is ready, she is not sure why clinic has not yet been built or opened.

Special meeting called for Monday for commissioners to sign a form. Not on today's agenda, oversight that it was not. Hopefully two commissioners can attend so that task can be completed. Two proposed items; requesting that March 8 meeting be changed to March 15th. Block grant proposals will be received on Mon 3/14. Can be voted on on meeting 3/15. 

Commissioners: Aranda would like to see Redford grant project get underway as soon as possible. Anything we can do to speed it up would be good to do. 

Hernandez says he met with Candelaria residents and said that they wanted a county official to help them appoint  a new water system board. Board was formed, all new people except for treasurer Rosa Lozano.
President is Stormy Noble
V.P. is Reynando Madrid (?)
9 people on the board total
Licenses for water certification will be pursued by several members.
Former water head Davis seems to be relieved. Maps of water meters may be at courthouse. Records of water charter in Candelaria from Jerry Agan era may be in courthouse. Barbara Baskin says she may have papers on Candelaria in her files. We're given to her years ago as a sample to use for Redford system as an example. 
Judge would like her to fax them to judge's office.
Hernandez says that map for meters and lines are not in hand, will be needed. 
Ruben Carrasco says there is a box in the old jail for the Redford water system. And two more that contain all the records and a box for Ruidosa and Candelaria. They are there in archives.
Hernandez says everyone is pretty happy and things are moving forward.

Item 6: 
Discussion to consider agreement with US Consults.

Intro: 30 year corporation. Work for small and large clients. Firm looks to create and save jobs, facilitate investments, economic development.
Gives example of a go kart firm relocating their manufacturing from China back to the U.S. Creating 305 jobs in Ruston, LA. 
Philip Rogers presenting.
Says they know private sector and their needs. Use Presidio as an example. Pipeline coming in helps with utilities being available for growth. US Consults can identify if they need money, infrastructure, etc. state funds, federal funds may be available. Firm seeks incremental funding mechanisms. Look at taxing things that community may not know are taxable, e.g. Fiber optics. Pursue grants. Worked in Fort Stockton, Hitchcock, TX. 
380 grant- sales tax sharing agreement helped bring millions of dollars to Hitchcock, they take 20% contingency. Win-win for govt entities and company. Collaborative effort with governments. Bringing opportunities to clients.
People in Mexico approached them about leveraging pipeline for utility services. 
People from Presidio were also present.
Speaking about flow of gas through pipeline generating more revenue for taxing entities. Confidential information, he cannot discuss. 
Says agreement is no harm, no foul agreement. 
Claims that since firm is sharing secrets, that's why non-compete clause and confidentiality clauses apply.
Pecos County and school districts in Pecos County are already participating.
Talks about taxing and how loopholes have been clamped down on. Talks about loophole for schools in taxing as well. 

John Fowlkes asks about his education. Says that county already has a law firm working on these things. We already have this mechanism in place. Says that when firm reps talk about opportunities without any clarity. Fowlkes submitted agreement to TAC to see if these deals are even legal. Closed door meetings are only to prevent County for being in a detrimental position, not for a private firm. 
Says he has law degree from Baylor. Other guy says he has a masters in economics from A&M. They are pushing for executive session.
Fowlkes calls agreement very aggressive.

Aranda wants to know just what it is that people are looking at. Firm demands executive session to discuss anything. 
White says he has confidence with our current legal reps and appraisal district and that he would rather not enter into this

Fowlkes says that he would be willing to negotiate with firm and Perdue, County's outside counsel. 
Hernandez says he doesn't see hey they can't go into executive session. 
Fowlkes says he doesn't necessarily object to executive session, but at that point they give up their rights to use or disclose any information. Hernandez says it's just up for discussion, no decisions, doesn't see the problem. 
Fowlkes says that unless everyone signs the non-disclosure agreement we won't get all the information. He says that no other entity has ever asked the County to sign an agreement with this type of language. Only other firm that did this was this same firm six and a half years ago. 
More discussion regarding whether they should continue to discuss or not.
Perdue rep says that it looks like an ad valorem tax related proposal.

Aranda says that pipeline is still premature to talk about since we don't totally know about valuations, exactly how it will be built.
End of discussion. 

Break at 10:29

At this point I had to leave to attend to the body of Rocky Barker (deceased) at his home in the City of Marfa. 

Officially adopted minutes from previous Presidio County Commissioners Court Meetings 2/9, 2/23, 2/29, 3/3 2016

A big thank you to County Judge Assistant Crystal Funke for providing copies of the adopted minutes of each meeting. Minutes maintained by County Clerk Virgina Pallarez. Minutes approved by Commissioners Court.

Agenda for Presidio County Commissioners Court Meeting March 15, 2016

Brazos County Occupational License application form

Brazos County has an excellent form. I will be working to adapt this form for use in our court here in Presidio County.