Friday, March 18, 2016

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. 

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