Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Notes from Presidio County Commissioners Court Budget Workshop, August 23rd, 2016, 1:30 PM, Presidio

Here are my notes from this meeting. The air conditioning is out at the County Annex, and the school graciously donated their conference room for this meeting. Many county employees and elected officials were present, as were officials from other agencies.
My analysis is that the commissioners are making progress towards a painful, but realistic budget. County Auditor Patty Roach has been the star here. She is well-prepared and understands the issues and the numbers.

Presidio County Commissioners Court Budget Workshop Meeting 1:30 PM, Presidio I.S.D. Conference Room, Tuesday 8/23/2016

Patty puts up a slide on the wall demonstrating our position.

M&O Revenues as of 8/23/16 $3,779.369
M&O Expenditures: (4,257,348)
Transfers to cover shortfalls in other funds: (114,505)

These are totals after rolling back dept funds to last year's levels. 

Sheriff has a public comment: he wants to know if the jail renovation needs an actual architect. He would rather only hire an engineer. Judge thanks him for his input. Katie says that statute reads for design/build that there needs to be an architect. 
Just a suggestion, Sheriff says. 

Announcements: no announcements

Item 6- discussion only budget workshop. Patty says there was an error in estimated revenue on the part of the tax assessor, has been corrected. Reflects an increase of about $225,000. 
Most depts have submitted reworked budgets to go back to 2016 levels. 
Total shortfall is now $592,484.00

Increased revenue by $225,240
Decreased expenditures $374,351

Constable pct 2 will be added to insurance policy for health, previously not covered. 
Reduction in shortfall from last meeting: $643,000

Raise M&O tax by three cents.
Offset from I&S tax rate and move to M&O. We have a small surplus in I&S rate, can move to M&O without triggering rollback. 
Current tax rate: .05458. If we reduce to .34 or .44 and move to M&O . One penny off I&S nets $38,640. Could go up to 2 cents (77,280 to M&O)

Two cents still leaves us with a surplus in hand in I&S of $136,314

Six cents still available in tax rate before rollback. Worth about $225,000

Jail reserve fund balance: Hernandez wants to know. Patty says projected is 1.9 million without any transfers or HVAC redo.
Hernandez wants to know what the difference is between taking jail reserves and using I&S funds. Patty says not too much difference but you do not want to deplete your reserves. Says that HVAC replacement at jail is at least a three hundred thousand dollar difference. She does not want to use jail fund to bail out our operating supplies. 
She says pipeline revenue at best will not come in until 2019 budget. 
Next year we will likely have significant revenue deficit.
Aranda is very concerned that the pipeline revenue will not come in earlier. Says we are counting on money for 2018 budget. He spoke to some folks who are experts in appraisal . Says that pipeline will be appraised in Jan 2017 and anything I the ground or on the ground will be assessed. 
By the time it all gets to Norma Arroyo is should be Sept Or Oct 2017. Patty says that she has seen the tax calculation form and New improvements have to be backed out. Norma agrees. New improvements have to be taken out and are not on until the next year. This year was $12,000,000.00 in new improvements. There is a lag. 
Aranda provides a paper for Patty to review. Hernandez asks about the chili plant. Says it supposed to be up and running by July of this next year. Norma says there is a lag, same applies. Money from 2017 is collected in 2018.
White says that we can tweak. Go up a bit on tax rate, take some out of reserves, possibly sell some assets, including some land next to the golf course, get it back on the tax rolls, explore selling some other county assets.
Patty says she supposes it could be viable. Timeline may be tricky, plus statutory requirements may need to be met.
Hernandez says that possibly selling some of the land near the golf course could help us pay our bills. Sell land at a good market value. 
Vasquez says he would be opposed to selling that land. White says that there are fewer choices when you are broke. 
Hernandez clarifies that it would not be the golf course, it is other land nearby the County owns. Vasquez repeats that he is opposed to selling any land. 
Hernandez says that selling is better than leasing for $1 for 100 years. What kind of return do we get either side. 
Aranda says there is an advantage to putting the land back on the tax rolls. 
White says a 100 year lease is essentially a sale. Aranda says he understands but leasing the property still allows the County to tax all the improvements.
Hernandez is advocating selling the land. Says that by leasing it we are essentially giving it away. Sell it we get some cash and additional tax revenue unless the purchaser gets some fancy tax abatements.
Aranda says that if we try to sell the land near the golf course at a high price we risk losing the whole development.
White says the minute we award a lease, these guys can take it to the bank, get a loan on it and and be gone or do nothing.
Hernandez reiterates his question about spending reserves versus spending the surplus in I&S. Patty says that with the I&S you are taking money you are collecting and transferring it to M&O versus taking money out of a sort of savings account from money you earn when coming from reserves. 
Patty says that last year transferred about $300,000 from jail fund for FY 2016 and about $100,000 from M&O surplus/reserves.
White says we have six cents we can go up on the tax rate. Each penny on a $100,000 home is ten dollars.
Vasquez asks about jail fund, how much can we take? Roof needs repairs, plus HVAC replacement. Patty says we really need to develop a policy to replace infrastructure every five years, schedule it and have a system so that we can easily predict expenses. 
Hernandez is concerned about going up on the taxes too much with jail fund reserves being nearly $2 million. Patty says that is why the five year plan for infrastructure replace/repair is so important. With one we could provide the public with info about future expenses. 
Four months of operating expenses is $1.5 million. Need to have that cushion.
Patty further advocates for five year plan. This year so far everyone has rolled back their budgets, cooperating, but still we have a large deficit.
Aranda wants to know more about the tax rate. 
Aranda says that every year the tax rate has either stayed the same or np even slightly lowered. That has been his goal. This year is different, we will have to raise, and he is ok with that. But he wants a recommendation from Patty about tax rate.
Patty laughs, says that jail reserves can be tapped this year. Cuts to budget can be made probably about $100,000. Tax rate can go up, adjust the I&S / M&O rates up two cents. Jail reserves are probably the best main short term solution, but not a good long term solution. Can probably handle it this year. 
Hernandez is looking at Patty's suggested cuts. He does not necessarily agree. 
Reduction of ten percent for outside agencies. Other cuts. She has firm numbers for health insurance discount we earned. 
Among other things, cut Sheriff's office reserves, cut temporary labor, cut out PIPA contribution, Presidio Food Pantry cont since does not exist.
Aranda says he would like to go down this list one by one.
White says that PIPA is going to have to be funded some with some seed money. Just getting started. Most important priority in his opinion. City and PMDD are contributing about $16,000. 
White very much wants the $12,500 back into PIPA. 
Hernandez wants to bring it back up to $16,500, as per last year. 
Aranda agrees. Should keep it if we need it. Hernandez pushes for the $16,500 budgets last year. White says that is we have to find it in reserves, we should do it. It is going to return tenfold. 
Judge says that CBI funding should cover all this. White says, yes, but we do not have it yet.
Tentative agreement to put $14,850.00 in (10%cut from last year)
Water district: last year $20,000, this year $18,000.00. White asks if we get an accounting on that. Judge says we can get one but we have not gotten anything. White says we must get a report. Some confusion as to whether a report has actually been received. Discussion about what the threshold should be for quarterly or yearly reports. 
Presidio EMS: Judge mentions that Mayor of Presidio says that he thinks the city will agree to bill per mile at $22.50. Aranda thinks it will be more expensive doing it that way. Marco Baeza says they would gladly accept that money per mile, it will result in more than $100,000 per year. Judge asks city admin if he is willing to work with her to get better reporting to gather detailed information on ambulance runs. 
He says yes, but last month alone county would have had to pay nearly $60,000 to city. Virgie ask about how the City of Presidio is billing their customers. Marco says that in all his years of collecting, you will not get a better collection rate of 35%. Insurance and Medicare pay about $400 for a run that would cost the county $2000. 
City admin promises more and better information. 
Marco says that is they do not get the grant from the hospital district city may be looking at another $300,000 to budget for EMS since they need a new ambulance. Aranda brings up giving Presidio money from the pipeline when it comes in. Thinks it is a good idea to give them a percentage.
Baeza says that there is no need to duplicate service as far as more ambulance services. He just got word that under new rules his EMT's will fall under the forty hour workweek. Says that he does not believe the City of Marfa may not be following labor law requirements. Judge brings up the $131,000 owed to the County for tax collection owed. Baeza says that this is something we can work on, just an oversight. He says it has never been before the City Council from 2010 onwards and the County has not been able to provide a signed contract. He is not pointing fingers but no need for theses accusations. Judge asks if we are going to meet at 4:00 to discuss this. Beast a says, "I don't think so, Judge."
Discussion regarding leaving Presidio EMS at $100,000. Aranda wants to leave it at that. Same about Marfa EMS. Leave it at $36,000 unless Marfa opts to Bill per mile. Judge suggests this but asks if commissioners want to do this. Hernandez would rather keep the $36,000 and forget the $22.50/mile. Katie mentions that we may not have a choice; it is up to the city to decide.
White wants to leave it the way it is for now and then make a decision later based on what we have. Wants to decide how much we are willing to raise the tax, other monies and then go from there. Jeff Davis County has not even been added in to this budget. 
More discussion about Jeff Davis County backing the County up. 
Judge suggest budgeting $10,000 for four runs for the year. 
If they go over, Sheriff says the jail can cover it.x
White says we can combine the JP offices and cut out JP #1. 
Presidio Fire Dept Chief Muniz wants to know why budgets are being cut in the first place. Judge explains deficit. $2,250.00 being proposed to be cut from Fire Dept. Muniz complains that he has not received payment for last quarter. Judge says she hopes to meet with the city of Presidio regarding holding payments since the City owes the County collections monies. Judge agrees, through no fault of his, the county is withholding payments from Presidio based on not receiving a simple or single response from the City of Presidio regarding the money owed to the County. 
Aranda clarifies to the Judge that the fire dept has been filing their reports and have not yet received third quarter monies although Marfa Fire dept has. Judge says that until we decide how to deal with City owed monies, we are not making payments. Clarification on debts, it is pointed out to Judge that fire dept is not really part of City of Presidio, they have complied with requirements. Muniz mentions that payments seem to come at different times. Judge is unsure of why things are not standardize, says she needs to get this system more standardized and need a more tight policy with regard to which payments are going out and when.
White says that they are not trying to withhold payment. Judge apologizes. Chief says he is just trying to figure this out. Judge says she will consult with Treasurer. Aranda says that we have budgeted all this money for non-departmental, we should be paying the money when it is expected. Aranda says we need to work out getting paid for the owed monies, but we should not be holding money just because of this other issue. Aranda says we need to work on theses issues and get them sorted out. 
Patty says that the city of Presidio has not paid their dispatch contract. There is a signed contract. Also, the City of Presidio has received services from the county and it is no secret. Baeza says that this is an issue of the County not informing the city of any of this. Not even a courtesy letter. White asks if the city would prefer for the County to stop collecting their taxes? Sheriff says that no matter what he will not stop dispatch services regardless of whether or not County is paid for it. It does not matter to him; these are emergency services. This is something we have to have. Judge says she took the initiative yesterday to try to set up a meeting, which is now off at the last minute. 
Baeza says that's because nobody knew, not even you, Judge. Judge says that we are finding many more things since our financial team is getting things in order. Officials have been meeting regarding that there has traditionally been no follow up on commissioners court actions. This is changing. 
Baeza says he understands, but all of a sudden Presidio is being held to the fire on these issues. Please do not punish the City of Presidio. 
Sheriff says that since we reopened the jail, the county has taken about six million dollars for operations. Just to put a value on that service at this point...
White says we don't currently have a budget for the golf course. Patty says, n, that has been added at last year's budget levels. 
Hernandez wants to return to the project at hand; going down the lines of non-departmental. 
Food Pantries: none for Presidio since their food pantry is not active. Ten percent decrease for Marfa food pantry.
Patty wants to know if commissioners are doing the cut for the two Fire Depts. Commissioners agree not to cut these depts.
No cuts for Libraries at the behest of Jim White. Agreed. 
Historical Commission. Cut out entirely.
Child Welfare Board: no cuts for little kids. Commissioners agree.
Child Advocacy Contribution: no cuts.
Health Ins/Retirement: no cuts. Firm number per Auditor
CIP contribution for airports: Chase says there is no CIP project on the books to be funded. Five and ten year plan would be best to put some of that away for the future. Runway improvements will cost about a million over this time. Would like to see county put a few bucks away. Proposed cut of $84,000. Last year budget $109,000, proposed $25,000. 
Judge proposes to get leases straightened out, try to get a contribution from the City, possible bond issue later if money is not set aside. Patty says that a bond election could be possible. Debt we have currently is from when jail was built. 
Two more years on jail until bond retired, possible to maybe do a bond issuance at that point to keep tax rate I&S in line. White says we still have not decided how much we're really gonna raise through the methods we have. 
Patty says the combination of methods we have can make this work. Painful but possible. 
Proposed of $25,000 towards airport CIP agreed upon. 
Insurance claim repairs: past issue, mostly resolved. Sam Cobos says that approx $2,000 has not been spent. Would like to keep it in the budget.
1,450 M&O portion added back in.
JP Presidio temp labor: proposed cut of $6500 to cut part time labor. Patty says right now nobody is employed in this position. She has two part time, this is merely temporary. Cut.
Parks South: cut temp labor from $9,000 to zero. 

Sheriff's Reserves: Sheriff would prefer full-time deputy in South County. Aranda says that they would prefer a full time, it would cut down on the problems with reserves, etc. Sheriff agrees. Says he would like both reserves and a full timer. 
White asks Sheriff if an extra deputy would assist in comp time issues, make the dept more flexible. Sheriff says definitely. Hernandez mentions that the pipeline project may impact law enforcement duties. More people from out of town. 
Stonegarden would help a lot. Sheriff agrees. White wants to plug in a new deputy. Beebe advocates for using jail emerge funds to help fund this position. Says it makes more sense than any other use, though it may be surprising to hear that from him it is what he thinks. 
Judge says that City of Marfa is funding three deputies for Marfa area, County can expect $180,000 payment from the City of Marfa for law enforcement contract. 
White says the additional deputy is self serving for the JP. Beebe says South County would be for JP 2. Agreed to put that in for now and see how it goes. 
Talk about extra help in financial offices, example being OMB part timer to help with bank statements. Commissioners want to add a category where if any of the financial offices need temp help there will be a line for that. Agreed. 
Back to South Parks Labor: $9,000 for last year, this year none budgeted. Hernandez says to cut. Agreed.

After all cuts today from non-dept cuts total $98,965.00

Patty says Virgie has cut an additional $6300 from last year's budget.
OMB cut theirs, Auditor cut hers. County Agent cut by about half since she is leaving. 
County Agent savings about $12,000. 

Judge announces to commissioners that Patty has requested to move into County Agent's office. On next agenda. Patty says that computer setup could be costly, other than that, not much expense. 
Talk about moving offices around, becoming more efficient.

Discussion on tax rate, I&S transfer by two cents to M&O.
Proposed to allow Sheriff to hire two deputies, one for Presidio, one for Marfa (Paid by Marfa). 

Patty talks about comp time audit; cooks need to be cut down to forty hours a week to avoid comp time or overtime. Dispatch as well, but it is a bit different. 
Bringing these folks down to forty hours will cut their pay by four hours per pay period. Recommends a small raise. 
Cooks may have to go home for a bit. Total of three employees. Would require a small raise.
White wants to give a small raise, Aranda agrees. 
Dispatch issue: used to work 84 hours per two week pay period. Do not qualify as law enforcement.
Sheriff says that if jail standards walks in they do not qualify as jailers, but have to be certified as jailers. Patty wants to know if the dispatch workers can have their hours rearranged to work a bit fewer hours. Budgeted for five, going to need six to make this work. Double issue, add a jailer, each jailer makes less, need to slightly raise pay.
TAC said that dispatchers are not in the same classification as law enforcement unless they are working as jailers. Not when they are working as dispatch. 
Sheriff argues that his dispatchers are actually working jail jobs. Majority of the work is monitoring the jail, phone calls for the jail, monitoring the control panel for the jail. 
Katie believes it may be cheaper to pay overtime with just five. 
Patty says adding complexities to the payroll system has already been a problem. She has problems with the concept of having separate system for different departments. 
Total cost for adding a dispatcher for a year would be about $38,000.
Starting pay is around $13/hr. After time pay rises to $15/hr.
Patty says overtime for a year would cost about $12,000.
Katie says that the dispatch contracts have not been reviewed in years. Dispatch could be raised a bit. Three entities pay: City of Marfa, City of Presidio, Jeff Davis County.m
Hernandez wants to know when dispatch contracts were renegotiated, asks Sheriff.
2009 contracts initiated. Have not been renegotiated. 
Says costs have gone up a bit, but not by too much. White says we need to negotiate those contracts.
Aranda wants to keep five ad give them the overtime. 
Patty gives some options. White says to pay the. The overtime. Hernandez agrees. 
Says also that overtime is based on al hours worked per week, so if one week they work too many, it can cost more. Sheriff agrees, some weeks they work more, other weeks work less. 
She recommends getting real numbers together before we decide. 
White wants another budget session.
 Hernandez agrees. Patty says we can schedule one. Hernandez suggests to have one after the next regular meeting.
Three percent raises thrown out there. Hernandez says let's not talk about that right now. 
Budget workshop scheduling discussed. Adoption of tax rate, public hearing, etc.

Next workshop Tuesday, August 30th in Presidio at PISD at 1:30 PM

Adjourn at 4:34 PM

Marfa EMS contribution

Notes from Presidio County Commissioners Court Special Meeting August 23, 2016, 9 AM, Presidio.

Here are my notes for the special (regular) meeting yesterday in Presidio at the County Annex.

Presidio County Commissioners Court Special Regular Meeting, Tuesday August 23rd, 9 AM, Presidio County Annex Building, Presidio.

Some people thought the meeting was starting at 9:30, so we are starting a bit late...

Commissioners present: Eloy Aranda, Judge Cinderela Guevara, Loretto Vasquez, Lorenzo Hernandez, Jim White.

Air conditioning in the Annex is not working, Judge is looking to see if PISD will allow commissioners to use their meeting room.
Meeting called to order at 9:40. Judge announces that the budget meeting later today will be moved to the boardroom at PISD admin building. 

Public Comments:

Larry Lunsford and Jane Walker represent the golf course management group. 
Annette Gutierrez from Rio Grande Council of Governments.

Cheryl Calvert: reads a letter from Frances Garcia requesting two new computers for Treasurer's office. Old ones keep shutting off and losing data. 
Also requesting funding for mandatory training. $4300 requested for computers and installation.

Jane Walker: golf course. Expresses how much this project needs to be moving forward. She and her husband have built golf courses in the past, communication is a must. She is having a lot of trouble communicating with County Judge and other officials. She is worried that communications are breaking down. She has been able to express concerns with several commissioners who turned her calls. Please do not let this project fall through the cracks. Too many jobs are on the line, please do your best to continue. 

Larry Lunsford: 
Golf course. Addressing lack of communication. June 14 commissioners voted unanimously to explore project and put together a lease agreement. 
Since lease was submitted, group has not heard a word. 
Atty representing the County, Jim Allison, has not made contact. Citizens have been calling him, but he had no news regarding progress or even communication. 
Asking for the County to appoint a point person to deal with the group. Timeline is very important. They are on a tight timeline. Confident that lease agreement can be negotiated without a problem. There will be a push/pull and that's OK.
Knows that County Atty says that nothing can be done before the survey is complete. This is not true. We can definitely try to negotiate other points. Suggesting a special meeting between parties, hash out generals, then wait on the survey. 
Hernandez asks if county has a lease agreement. Judge says that she received a lease last week, but she wants to move forward at this point. Judge says she will address his question In her Judge's comments. Lunsford leaves the meeting directly after speaking.

Announcements from Judge and Commissioners:

Judge addresses golf course issues; says now that after nearly two years as of June 8 plans are being developed. Reminds commissioners that on June 14 court signed a letter of intent to move forward. 
Next county hired an attorney, Jim Allison, since John Fowlkes wanted to have outside counsel address this situation. Judge makes the point that the County has made progress and has not been trying to hold up the project. 
There was a big mix up on the date of a meeting with Mr Lunsford. Two meeting thus far with Judge. One at grocery store Judge called atty. Jim Allison says that nothing can be done before survey is turned in. Mix up on date was re: Sept 19 meeting between parties, confusion between parties. Lunsford thought it was August 19. Golf people showed up Aug 19, Allison was not here, and survey is not complete as it is. 
Judge gives a run-down on what occurred when August meeting did not happen as golf group thought it was to happen. Judge met informally with golf group atty last Thursday night. Judge has been advised by Allison not to talk about lease to golf party at this point. Judge met atty, and got to know him but did not discuss lease. 
Judge says that under Local Govt Code before a lease is considered County is obligated to publish notice twice in the paper before any lease is awarded. Notice must include a description of a metes and bounds survey. Survey must be completed before publication. When survey is completed the county publishes notice of intent to accept sealed proposals of any lease. Bid bond must be submitted with any proposal. Then commissioners court can accept or reject any lease. Performance bond recommended so that project is guaranteed to be finished. Judge would like for the public to understand that in no way is commissioners court opposed to the development of the golf course, but at the same time the commissioners must protect this asset and that this is a business transaction first. There is a PR side to projects like this, but there is also a legal and practical side to it that commissioners are obligated to protect and do properly. She urges commissioners to be sure this project is done right. Big project like this one should and needs to be done in a careful and considerate manner. We can wait on the survey, we hired a proper attorney, and between now and that time that we can do things properly as to legal requirements we will not communicate with the golf group guarding legal aspects. Judge will send proposed lease to other commissioners today. It is 45 pages. Atty will negotiate lease. Mr Allison is on standby right now in case we need a teleconference call. 
Hernandez says that his concern is not with the legal but with the lack of communication. He received many phone calls, had no answers, has  not even seen the lease. Feels bad he could not even comment to callers at all. 
Judge says that the fact that the meeting was rushed instead of Sept 19th county was not prepared to act or comment. Commissioners would have had more time to prepare. Judge says she likes the idea of having a committee to communicate with golf group, answer questions. She is not trying to avoid meeting with people. 
Hernandez wants to know when the county received the lease. Judge says it was either Wednesday or Friday. It was printed and placed onto her desk. 
Vasquez wants to know if judge has had a chance to discuss lease with atty. Judge says yes, atty wants to advise commissioners about the generals but first says he wants a survey. 
Hernandez asks why Lunsford has a difference of opinion on why we cannot move forward without a survey. Judge says she thinks we need to follow our own attorney's advice instead of a non-attorney from an outside party. Aranda says that we must follow the Texas Local Government Code. 
Hernandez says that there are two contradicting stories. Is this a matter of lack of communication. 
White says there is no contradiction; the County is bound by the Code. Hernandez agrees but he does not understand why there seems to be a misunderstanding.
Judge says that both attorneys understand what is needed; everything is clear. 
Hernandez says that according to the golf group in a meeting on Friday Jim Allison will not return calls, judge will not return calls. Judge says this is untrue. She has not received any calls during the day. Talks about how Virgie came over to get Judge out of her own house for an emergency meeting with golf group. Judge went,did not discuss lease agreement. She has always been open to meeting with Lunsford. The golf group's atty has never called her, this is just untrue.
White says that the golf course is in his precinct, he has never been contacted. 
Hernandez says he was playing golf and that's how he met with the group. Met at the golf course and they told him that they had scheduled a meeting with the Judge on Saturday.
Judge says that her phone was not working and atty Allison recommended not discussing any details. Judge did not meet with them that day. Judge says she will continue meeting with them but will not discuss legal issues. She does not appreciate the accusations of a hidden innuendo. They know what they have to do; they have to get that survey done. 
Vasquez asks if we can meet with Allison. judge says yes, but it's $200/hr plus travel. We do not need him here unless we are actually getting something done. Vasquez agrees. 
Allison is coming into town for Sept 13th for county Judge and commissioners conference at Lajitas. Can schedule a meeting with him at that point. 
By that time commissioners will have read the lease. 
Hernandez says it is his understanding that White, Fowlkes and the County Judge had a copy of the lease but he did not. White says that Hernandez has it in his email, if he would only check it. Hernandez acknowledges that.
End of topic.

County Auditor wrote a letter to the a city of Presidio to have a meeting regarding payments for services rendered for tax contract and dispatch services contract. 
Marco Baeza says it is more than likely that meeting will not happen; they want to consult with their City Attorney. Judge says that is unfortunate, a meeting was scheduled for 4:00 today. She wants to resolve this, disappointed that it may not happen. 

No commissioners announcements. 

Presentation by Annette Gutierrez on RGCOG solid waste grant contract, etc.
Texas Community Development Program.
Application due Feb 9, 2017. Grant administrator and engineer need to be secured. 
This year the floor is $225,000 so not every community will be funded in the two year cycle. Extra points given next time around for communities who do not qualify in a year.

Aranda says that each year this is less and less money. Now it is about $168,000, used to be close to a half million. After admin is paid, there is not much left over for materials and actual progress. 
She says she understands and that is why the floor is set higher than before. Federal funds are lower than before, it is tough. Bringing it up to $275,000 and not everyone gets a grant. 
Solid waste monies available. Application workshop August 29th at Casner Room in Marfa. Hernandez wants to know if County can get a grant and if they can't use the equipment can they pass it on to cities? Particularly with tires, maybe a trailer to haul them. The cities do the work... Annette says not rally, the surplus funds and other goes to El Paso since they have essentially unlimited needs. 
She recommends teaming up with Brewster County on some of these issues. 
Grant totals between $5000-$8000. 
Hernandez wants to know who applies for these grants. Judge says that she sent info to commissioners, can pursue those grants. Annette says county and city can apply jointly. Judge says our OMB dept should be at that meeting since they handle the grants. 
RGCOG Sept 9 annual meeting at 11:00 AM at El Paso Marriott. Everyone welcome.

Item 7- CIP grant for Presidio-Lely airport.
Chase Snodgrass presents. Says this is the same process as Marfa airport grant. County has already paid match. State grant requires publication of some policies. Hernandez moves to approve. Unanimous.

Item 8- what further steps need to be taken regarding coming into compliance with grants. 
Sheriff asked for this item. Sheriff asks OMB what he needs to do. Katie Sanchez says that he needs to account for an ATV. Sheriff says he will do that today. Katie then says that once everything is accounted for and reassigned, then some other things may come up. 
Sheriff says he understands that, wants to know what else. Judge says she has sent a list, includes re-outfitting Dodge with police radio gear, etc. Also Sheriff needs to sign the conflict of interest policy.
Sheriff says he will not address the conflict of interest policy since it is not in the agenda. Judge says that she would like to hear about why this is. 
Sheriff says that the law requires that a conflict of interest policy must be on hand, but not necessarily has to have anyone sign it. White say that commissioners court passed that he had to sign. Sheriff says that he is not required. Judge says grant requires it. White asks, "What's the deal? Why can't you get this signed?" Sheriff says he does not have to, no other Sheriff knows about this type of policy. White says that just by refusing to sign it it makes it looks like he has a conflict of interest. Says sheriff is already playing by the rules, why not just sign it? Sheriff declines to respond.
Judge says that another problem is that several vehicles have been loaned out and are not being used for law enforcement. Need to be returned to Sheriff and then maybe county owned vehicles 

Aranda wants to know if Sheriff does not sign the conflict of interest policy, what happens with grants. Katie says that since we have a policy saying it needs to be signed, state goes by that. We get in trouble. 
Judge says she has the statute re: policy. 
She reads the statute to commissioners. County must ensure that no conflict of interest of any person administering grants or receiving grant funds, assets. County policy is it must be signed. State goes by that. Sheriff says he has not heard that, has not seen it, will not sign it. 
White wants to know how soon Stonegarden kicks in if we get into compliance. Katie says it is undetermined. Says that sometime in Feb more news may come. 
Says we did not apply for 2015 funds, none awarded. 2016 funds may be awarded, will receive in Feb 2017. It is a three year grant. About $800,000 total. 
Aranda asks what our deficiencies are at this point. 
Judge says that the thermal camera is not accounted for. Katie says she can get that taken care of today. Reinstall equipment on Dodge. Annual audit is being waited on. 
Judge says that all vehicles funded by Stonegarden needs to have all vehicles marked with all original equipment in it. Must have all in there, be marked, can only be used to Homeland Security. 
White says we need to get vehicle inventory straightened out. Judge asks Sheriff to get with her, treasurer and OMB to come up with a plan to answer monitoring review and also make plans for vehicle redistribution, accountability. 
Sheriff says that he will. Vasquez asks if the conflict of interest lack of Sheriff's signature will hurt them. Judge says we can hope it does not, but we know that it is supposed to be submitted. Says that Homeland Security will ultimately decide whether that is a problem. 
Hernandez wants to know who we can ask if the Sheriff decides not to sign? Katie says that Pete Lara may be able to help, but no guarantees. Hernandez says he is pretty sure the Sheriff would sign if everyone told him he had to, but do we really need this?
Judge says that even though the money is awarded by the State of Texas, Washington DC provides the funds the state administers. She says that the federal requirements need to be followed and this is one of them.
Hernandez says that if the Sheriff says that no other Sheriff has singed this then why does he? 
Judge says she believes that if we know what the rules are, we should be following them. That's what she believes.
White says that if the conflict of interest is not signed, then why would the State not think there is  a conflict. Judge asks Sheriff is he is waiting for an attorney general opinion, as he stated before to commissioners. Sheriff says no. Judge says that the are prerequisites for everything we get, we need to follow. 
Katie says that regardless the County has a policy that says every employee must sign this. Hernandez says he is concerned that many people are affected by this decision. Judge asks which decision. Hernandez dances around the issue, speaks for a while while not pointing finger at Sheriff, says everything except the obvious re: Sheriff's non-cooperation. 
Aranda says he wishes that this issue could be easily resolved. He wishes that Sheriff could see that cooperation and compliance needs to happen. Asks the Sheriff nicely to comply since he is part of the County team. Katie says that thus far she has not had a problem with communication from the Sheriff's Office regarding accounting for grant funded equipment.  No further discussion. 

Item 9- bid on Presidio County trust property, Lot 12, Block 3, Russell Addition, Presidio. Martin from Perdue is here. Actual value of land is about $4000. There is a condemned structure on the property that will have to be removed. Property is behind the American Legion. Bid is for $5000, Martin recommends selling it to bidder. 
Hernandez wants to know more about the property. Martin says that it has been in County trust for a few years. Recommends sale since amount is more than lot value, get it back on tax rolls. Approved

Item 10- EMS monthly financial reports: city of Presidio. 
Judge Beebe asks if the reports have been verified by comparing the reports to actual calls to dispatch. 
Judge says she is requesting that information, was told that she would have to pay a lot of money for copies, access to sensitive information, possibly several thousand dollars. Has called Austin for clarification on this matter. Says she thought that being emergency management coordinator gave her access. Need to get some clarification. 
White says he is concerned about budget process and lack of transparency. Total local of receivables and/or billing to people receiving the services. Zero accents receivable listed, are they even billing? Judge says that Marfa report has all that information, but she believes that City of Presidio does not have the software to account for that. We need to look at future policy with regard to this. She sent an email to the Mayor telling him that the " business as usual" approach is not a viable option this year. 
Meeting this afternoon we will be dealing with this. We have so many things to resolve with the a City of Presidio. Our own auditor has questions regarding the balance due from the city regarding tax collection and dispatch funds owed. 
Now that 4:00 meeting is probably not taking place, judge will not be able to get back to commissioners with regard to how to resolve this. Tax assessor Norma Arroyo is asking the City of Presidio to pay in advance for future service. 
Hernandez asks about City of Marfa's report- is it complete? Yes, says Judge. Hernandez says that to him the City of Presidio's report is not really a report, just more of a description of what they said they did. Judge says she would like for the Sheriff's Office to cooperate in getting more information from the dispatch.
Hernandez says he wants to make sure that commissioners have all the information possible before making any decisions regarding funding different EMS agencies. 
Aranda says that with this information her we really don't know what the costs really are. Advocates researching the true cost of mileage, etc county would be on the hook for if county contracts on a per mile basis. 
Judge brings up the $131,000 owed and still no response from the City... 
Meeting set up for today with the City, now probably not happening. Says Marco Baeza said first that City would reimburse County, but had to consult with Attorney first. Now meeting may not be happening. Auditor says that history shows that City was paying bill, received services, just stopped paying the bills sometime last year. 
Judge says she is implementing a system to have scheduled follow up regular agenda items already marked on future agendas. 
Hernandez wants to know if we send out any invoices for services. Patty Roach says that to her knowledge we don't send out any invoices. Hernandez questions the County's policy. Patty says the Treasurer keeps track of who pays. Patty recommends that going forward we go ahead and invoice any entities receiving services. Hernandez likes that recommendation.
Judge gives kudos to the auditor for finding that we had not been paid.
Motion to approve financial reports asked for by Judge. Is there one? Aranda says that during this afternoon's budget workshop we should have the city administrator there to ask him to clarify details, or just talk about this situation. Knows that the city wants the county to help them, but they need to help themselves too. Judge says she will cal Eric and the city administrator to see if they can attend and answer questions.
Motion to accept by Judge: White seconds. Unanimous

Item 11- Sheriff's Office monthly financial report: 
Hernandez remarks that nearly 3000 calls per month through dispatch is a lot. Sheriff agrees. White makes motion to accept. Unanimous

Item 12- departmental advances and registrations for training:
Discussion about upcoming Lajitas training for commissioners. Motion to approve by Aranda. Patty clarifies that they are also in the bills. Will be dealt with in bills item.

Item 13- line-item transfers: 
County Judge for training, district court, money for fuel. Jail $75,000 for salaries for jailers to move to US Marshal transport. Transportation to professional services and communication for Constable pct 1 - $500. Constable 2- $1000 to tires. Several others...
Sheriff asks question about line item transfers: ask about reserve officer funding. Judge clarifies that it was approved the second time around. Sheriff asks if it is a practical matter to micromanage his budget even though it is his budget. Patty Roach says that it is required to go before commissioners court. He says ok, so that is required to micromanage it even though it is within my budget. Is it not called micromanaging. Patty says yes, it is a definite requirement. Sheriff asks if it is the ,saw or what? Patty says that yes, she can provide the statute, but that it is not required in larger counties. 
Aranda tells Sheriff that we did not deny funding. Sheriff says thought that during the time commissioners stall, nobody is working. Do they understand? Aranda talks about improved communication, we need it including from you. Judge holds up a a stack of emails she sent to Sheriff and that his responses always say, "Good luck" and nothing else. She cannot force anyone to communicate with me. Sheriff says yes, they all do say that. Judge shows another one where the Sheroff replied, "LMAO" with regard to a sick leave policy for Isidro Garcia. Sheriff says, "yes. That's right." 
Aranda is getting riled up. He says that if we do not talk to each their, we cannot face our problems. Every year we face this; if we cannot communicate where are we? Judge asks Aranda if he is accusing her of not communicating. No, says Aranda, goes on about communication.m
Sheriff says this was discussed with two people otherwise. 
Whites asks Sheriff how he can respond to an email with "LMAO"? Sheriff says he is not the only one acting this way.
Judge says she is always willing to speak with people. Sheriff says he is not the only one, and that the Sheriff does not go over to talk with her. sheriff stonewalls, says that he does not ever ask her for help. Judge is now mad. 
Hernandez says that judge should calm down, that we all need to do a better job communication within the county. Judge says she is not arguing, she is taking care of everyone who comes in, she is communicating. Hernandez says that right now she is not communicating with him in a good way. Judge asks is a response such as "Good luck" is acceptable. Hernandez says that he is just saying that everyone needs to do a better job, this is not productive. 
Vasquez asks about line item transfers should probably all go through one place. Like all should go through Patty to commissioners court. 
Hernandez asks about the P.O. process. Cheryl explains the process. 

Motion to approve: Vasquez. White seconds. Unanimous.

Item 14- bills and expenses:

Patty Roach has some changes to the submitted list. No payments to City of Presidio, pulled them. 
County Annex and courthouse, pulled Eagle Pest Control, no amount on invoices. 
White asks if the commissioners were not going to do reimbursements anymore. White clarifies, asks why there are reimbursements on the bills? Cheryl says that Coker told her that Katie said he could. White says are we going to follow what we decided to do. Aranda says we will do a what we decided to do. Patty Roach has a comment. she understands the concept, but she thinks that you do not reimburse employees for expenses there are circumstances where a purchase order is not efficient. The commissioners still have total control over reimbursements. 
Hernandez asks about approval for reimbursements for expenses? Are they approved beforehand? Patty explains that employees take risk on reimbursements. Sometimes they get an advance, other times they get reimbursements. 
White still wants to know if they are going to follow the non-reimbursement policy.
Patty says that she is giving her point of view. Realistically there are situations where it is more costly to issue a purchase order than to do a reimbursement. 
Patty explains further expenses related to travel. 
Questions regarding David Beebe's travel and training. Receipts provided, reimbursement not guaranteed. Must submit receipts in order to receive any monies, must be budgeted. Beebe explains that he understands that by charging things in advance he takes total risks on not being reimbursed, did submit receipts but still risks not being paid. Patty agrees, commissioners still have the power to refuse reimbursements. Employee takes risk. 
Hernandez pushes for reimbursement to Beebe since it is in his budget, it is legitimate expenses. Katie brings up that that is fine for this purpose, but grants have different rules and we have had trouble with reimbursements with the grant funds, it has gotten us into trouble in the past. Very important to remember. Judge says that without a purchase order system it could be possible to have duplicate reimbursed. Purchase orders also help the county's financial team have a better idea of real, active budgets. Hernandez gives example of the school, must have P.O. To get an item, or risk not being reimbursed. 
White asks about reimbursements for Constable #2, tires and other supplies, clearly bypassing the P.O. System. 
Chase Snodgrass remarks and expounds on the fact he did not know about the policy. Remembers the past policy in the Purchasing Policy about taking your own risk. 
Hernandez says that maybe there should be some upper and lower limits on what is permitted. 
Patty says let's continue with the bills...
Southwest Border Sheriff's Association bill for Sheriff membership/ training.
Chase had his reimbursement reduced, incomplete receipt. 
Jail fund: payment before shipping on an item, treasurer will research. 
Judge makes motion of approving all bills as presented minus bills Patty pointed out. 


Adjourn at 12:19

Friday, August 19, 2016

AGENDA: Presidio County Commissioners Court Special Regular Meeting, Tues, 8/23 9:00 AM, Presidio County Annex, Presidio

The budget meeting at 1:30 PM (also at the Annex) will be preceded by a Specially called Regular meeting of commissioners court. That agenda is HERE. Posting beneath is agenda for BUDGET workshop. I will be attending both.

Presidio County Commissioners Court Agenda- Special Budget Workshop Meeting, Presidio TX, Tues Aug 23rd, 1:30 PM

Here is the agenda for Tuesday's Budget meeting in Presidio. Please attend if at all possible! 1:30 pm at the Courthouse Annex next to Ft Davis State Bank.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Notes from Presidio County Commissioners Court Budget Workshop, Mon Aug 16, 2016, 5PM, Marfa courthouse

Here are my notes from a contentious meeting. It was the first meeting of commissioners court regarding budget specifics. Coming into this next year with a possible 1.2 million dollar deficit, many people are fed up with large payments in the "Non-Departmental" category, including over 220,000 dollars to other governmental entities, most of which have their own statutory tax bases and tax rates.

Presidio County Commissioners Court Budget Meeting Monday, August 15th, Marfa, 5PM Presidio County Courthouse.

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

Convene meeting at 5:17 PM

Public comment: None

Item 5- announcements from judge and commissioners:
Judge says that Chase Snodgrass received an email from FAA about violations at airport. Some work will have to be done to get into compliance.
Wed judge will meet with TXDOT in El Paso about money for PIPA. Treasurer recommended that inventory to be taken in Presidio Wed and Marfa Thursday.
Judge went to Jeff Davis county commissioners court. They adopted the $22.50/mile rate for ambulance service to City of Presidio and Presidio County. Though it would be cheaper, but it is not. 
Jeff Davis will collect from government agencies and then will bill the individual clients, reimburse county if bill is collected.
City of Marfa will go to a billing system to Bill the county as well. Hernandez asks about how this is going to work. Will this set a precedent on how the city of Presidio will be handled. Judge says that she received an email from the mayor of Presidio and he says that Presidio will ask for $100,000 again for EMS this year. Judge reads email to commissioners. She is not happy about it. Next year Mayor says he Wants to ask for twenty-five percent of total budget. Says Jeff Davis will be charging them more than before (zero). Says he is ready to receive County ad valorem money from pipeline. Thinks in the future the contribution should be around $125,000. 
Judge says this is not a good solution. He did not mention that the City of Presidio is indebted to the county $131,000 for years of tax collection. County sent invoice, detailed numbers, no response whatsoever. Hernandez says the administrator knows about it. Says that informally Marco Baeza thought the money had been automatically taken out of tax collections. Judge says no, but that is a good solution going forward. What about debt previously incurred? Since 2011. Aranda asks why this what not collected. Judge says this was a written contract, easily read and followed if paid attention to. 
Says that auditor Patty Roach will make a presentation about the dire finances of Presidio County. Judge says an option is to suspend payment on EMS. Hernandez says that judge should send him a letter. Judge says she will, wants some guidance and wants to know if commissioners have any knowledge of this. Hernandez wants to know when the last time we got a report from Presidio Fire/EMS. Hernandez says that he knows they do not file reports, how can they ask for money of they don't file?

Aranda says we need to look at options. Says that City of Presidio is willing to wait on County's revenue from the pipeline, willing to work with us. We need to work with them. 
Says there is a non-profit organization that will come in and run the EMS, run by ex EMS director Skelton. Judge says the thing is that she thinks the best thing to do is to set aside some money and let every entity bill us per each ambulance run. Breaks down the math showing it will be cheaper for the county. Mentions that many of Presidio's runs are to Elephant Rock where advanced EMTs from Marfa meets them to take over. Or they get to the Marfa EMS station and are treated there. Hernandez says that the cost of just providing the service is greater than $22.50/mile. 
Jeff Davis County is charging that rate and it covers the infrastructure as well. 
Auditor brings up that if we agree to pay 25% they could increase their budget and we could be on the hook. Numbers of patients outside of Presidio City unknown by Presidio EMS. No numbers available. 
Patty wants to know about the fact that this year Presidio has not paid for dispatch contract, tax bill, more. What do we do about that? Hernandez says that he was mayor of Presidio until 2011 and does not remember any of this. Cindy Clark was City Administrator. 
Judge says that County may have to withhold payments of taxes in the future. What about our $131,000 owed to us. We need to stipulate truth in billing methods. Currently no info from Presidio EMS. Do they even bill their patients? No info.
Aranda says we need to find out how many runs they do, info on numbers. Need to get that and not jump the gun. 
Judge says this year is really really tight, we need to collect. Patty says she would prefer that as well, set up a system for the future. 
Aranda says he is surprised that they received a notice and nobody even called back about it. Verified to be true, nobody called. Frances Garcia says it used to be that when they were behind on dispatch, the Sheriff would cut them off and hey would pay. 

Next topic: judge introduces Patty Roach to present the financial straits the County is in. 
Auditor Patty Roach makes presentation. Right now we are calculated M&O at 3,554.129 revenue
Expenditures with no raises, no new staff :4,631699.00
Shortfalls in other funds: $158,391.00
Total shortfall: 1,235,961.00 for FY 2017

Causes: M&O down $387,178.00 exemptions dropped value by 42,893,649.00
Value drop due to utility exemption per State: $37,001,599.00- resulted in decrease of revenue of $387,178.00
Increases in funds transfers: $50,316.00
Deficit budgeting in FY 2016: $354,031.00
Increases in M&O budgets: $444,435.00

Total $1,235,961.00

Possible actions:

Cut M&O spending by $494,751.00
Cut budgets an additional amount: $100,000.00
Raise Taxes: ten cents- $347,797.00
Spend reserves: $293,412.00
Each penny in tax increase results in $10 increase on $100,000 home. 

Hernandez would like to see the County increase revenue through leases, services, etc. Patty says many of those go into dedicated enterprise funds. Hernandez says that it helps regardless. 
Jail inmate fee to US Marshals was negotiated at $65/day in 2012. Jail transport was recently renegotiated.
Judge says these proposed cuts for county services are extremely hurtful to departments. 
Departmental numbers projected on screen... (When is receive a copy I will post)

Aranda wants to allow dept heads to suggest their own cuts. Doesn't want to just slash everyone without input.
He wants to spend money from reserves. Says there is $1.7 million in reserves, hope for the best next year. 
Judge says that in reserves we would need to set aside four months operating expenses, which is about one million. 
Patty Roach says that is basically all we have. Jail may have more. Need a cushion of minimum $500,000 just for jail reserves. A/C project is an example of why we need reserves without having to issue bonds. 
Aranda says that project will cost about $300,000. 
Vasquez says that there is no way to put off that project, we need to get it done since the jail makes money and we cannot take the chance of being closed down. 
Looking for an architect for jail HVAC. No applicants, position has been advertised in nearby major cities. Judge says that it is not worth the risk.
Calls Gracie Parras to speak about the heat problem in the winter. Gracie says that the inmates call their attorneys when they are cold since heat is virtually inoperable.
Vasquez reiterates that we cannot put this off. 

Judge calls for a break. It is her birthday and Virgie made a cake. Cake and ice cream. 
Break at 6:21 PM.

Return to meeting at 6:30.
Patty says that she would encourage commissioners to look at page 51 for a summary.
Some depts have had staffing requests, not in this budget.

Aranda asks if all the details are in the packet. Yes, says Patty.
Hernandez asks if we stuck with exactly last year's budget we would save $494,751.00, still leaving us with a 700,000 plus deficit.
Aranda brings up using more reserves and not raising taxes as much, plus rolling back to 2016 levels. 
Different numbers plugged into formula to see how it affects reserves.
Aranda advocates for only a three cent tax increase and to get dept heads to cut budgets.
Or if budgets cannot be cut, spend up to $637,000 in reserves. Wants to know how much jail fund has available after half million cushion is considered. Patty says about $700,000.
Katie Sanchez talks about cutting transfers to other entities first and then reducing departmental budgets. Says that for the last three years county employees and departments have had to cut, taxes have risen, and payments to outside entities have increased. 
Patty says we will actually be saving some money on insurance this year, not represented in budget. Reduce capital expenditures. Collect from City of Presidio. 
Hernandez and Aranda start to converge in three cent tax rate increase, spending over $500,000 in reserves, cutting back to 2016 budget levels, asking dept heads for more help, try to collect money from city of Presidio. 
Hernandez wants to know what the rollback rate is. Rollback for M&O is 76 cents, we were at 58 cents last year. 18 cents leeway. 
Lots of room. Harlan Hardy mentions that we would all get voted out if taxes were increased by that much. Taxes go up without an increase in services. 
Vasquez says Sheriff has asked for an additional deputy, correct? Patty says the numbers are more than just that, new deputy request is not even reflected in this budget. No new staff in this budget. Page nineteen has Sheriff's office requests. 
PIPA may not need to be budgeted for, says Judge. Savings of $12,000.00
Hernandez looks at road and bridge, golf course, north parks. Judge says that we have not yet signed the agreement with the golf people. Outside attorney looking at it. Unsure if it happens. County must protect that asset. Have to keep it until a solid agreement is reached. Road and bridge dept asking for increase of nearly $214,000.00

Hernandez recommends going with 2016 budget levels but allowing dept heads to reallocate their monies in their own manner.

Aranda says this is merely proposed, we use this to cut. 
Katie Sanchez agrees that rolling back to 2016 and letting dept heads decide what they need is a good way to do it.

Proposal on the table is to roll back to 2016 levels, cut an additional $100,000, collect whatever we can from Presidio, raise taxes (determine what rate) spend $536,870 in reserves.
Savings on insurance: $10,000.00, 

Judge says we should get the $30,000 from Presidio on past dept, what they owe for this year ($25,000) and withhold some EMS payments. 
Hernandez wants to cut parks. Says he can for sure in South parks. 
Cut emergency services CBase funding. 
Presidio Food Pantry does not function, have no volunteers. Hernandez says it is a mess, the county fixed the building, they did not hold up their end of the bargain. 

 Beebe speaks about separation of budgets. City budgets, county budgets are different. Cities are requests money from broke county and county commissioners have to raise their own tax rate. Cities do not have to be accountable for county rates, making commissioners take the heat for additional funds for cities. Commissioners need to defend their own budget and not do the dirty work for outside agencies by raising taxes just to transfer money out to agencies that don't want to raise their own tax rates. Aranda agrees. Beebe uses example of having to buy copy paper out of my own pocket since his dept is out of money, underfunded. Says that City of Presidio is already planning on getting more of a subsidy from the County's future ad valorem tax receipts from the pipeline. Stating it publicly in advance to County. County and city funds are not the same funds. County's duty is to defend its own budget. Presidio should raise their own tax rates instead of having commissioners do it and take the blame, then give money away even though we are beyond broke.

Judge mentions that City of Presidio gave their employees a 3% raise last year, this county has not seen a raise in a number of years, city is asking for more money.

More talk about spending reserves. Patty says she is opposed overall, but it can be done. 
Hernandez says he is feeling a little better about the reserves. Reserves have been steady. 
Added $100,000 to jail reserves this year, says Patty. Jail balance approx 1.7 million. Next year will be reduced because of HVAC project expense. 
Judge asks is we are going to set aside $136,000 for EMS subsidies? Patty says we do not have good data at this point. Judge says that dispatch can provide good data if cities do not. Hernandez says that he cannot believe that Presidio EMS does not provide data. Marfa EMS does. Confirmed by Judge. 
Hernandez asks again about ambulance policy possibilities. Gets a phone call and leaves the room as Judge answers question for the rest of the commissioners. 
Says City of Presidio should not come to County to demand payment since they cannot pay. She does not believe that is a good way to write a budget if they are completely dependent on getting money from the County. Patty says that without numbers to back up a 25% payment for Presidio EMS unless 25% of the runs are made outside of the County. 
Hernanadez re-enters room and says that providing the service is what they are paying for. That is the cost whether the ambulance moves or not. Harlan Hardy asks how the City of Marfa does it. Increased Taxes and raising water bills is the reply.
Judge says that she requested the City of Presidio 2016 budget for nearly a year and just got it two weeks ago. Proposes not to make any payments to any entity that does not timely file a budget. She complained to Atty General and nothing happened even though AG sent a letter. Can't believe city would virtually ignore a letter from the AG. 
Hernandez says that is a good point, but when the County does something like that it punishes all the people, not just in City Hall. 
Beebe says that there has to be accountability, otherwise there are no repercussions for bad behavior. Hernandez agrees but says that people not responsible are punished. Beebe says that is the only way to get results, what we have been doing his not worked. Elected officials in each entity need to be held accountable.
Judge beings out the Municipal Code and quotes statutes about publishing budgets and filing. Virgie Pallarez says they have never filed to this day.
Hernandez says that the County needs to send the City a letter, jokes to have Beebe write it. 
More discussion. Patty wants to know whether the commissioners can decide whether to set aside money and receive bills from the EMS entities. Hernandez agrees that is the only fair way to do it. Aranda says we must have numbers. Numbers on costs, numbers on number of runs. Get the information, digest it, then make a decision. Hernandez says we should already have that info. Yes, we should, says Aranda. 
Hernandez wants to know why we pay for the Border Patrol gate runs. Judge says that there are two kinds of runs. 
People get sick coming back and call ambulance. Prisoners get sick, need ambulance. Also when people get sick in Mexico and need transport back. John deputy of CBP said that ninety nine percent of these cases a legal residents of the US and come back through and immediately call EMS.
Hernandez asks why the expense falls on the County. Judge gives a car accident in Midland as an example. Also says that Presidio had no information on billing, collections. Are they actually billing? She suspects they may not be actually billing. 
Aranda says that the port used to be in city limits and the old city manager used to get made at Kerry Skelton, former EMS director why ambulance would pick up people at the border. Answer was humanitarian respect for life. Now port area has been annexed. Judge says this is a detail we have to work out. Hernandez wants to know about the port. 
Beebe mentions that PIPA may be responsible for port EMS. Some discussion. 
Vasquez wants to know about billing. Hernandez says he does not know about monitoring, collections. Need to find out if proposed way will be cheaper or more expensive. Judge wants to get accurate information from dispatch. Aranda says we can wait on this, get more info.
Hernandez says he had a conversation with Skelton about forming a non profit, wants to set one up, could do it with $50,000 county contribution. Judge asks is Skelton was penalized for medicine abuse.  To finish the story. Presidio used to have a non-profit. Aranda says Skelton is working on this right now. Has resources in El Paso, raising money through the non-profit. 
Sam Cobos mentions that City of Marfa used to contribute $20,000 towards golf course. Beebe mentions that he believes that the city of Marfa will not contribute because there is now a private party supposedly holding a lease. Judge says that lease has not yet been signed, attorneys still working on it, nothing at all yet. We can't budget for anything reliably re golf course right now because partnership does not exist.

Judge says that City if Marfa says that the City of Marfa is only willing to donate money to the airport once the county gets their leases straight. But not until then. City is buying three new Suburbans to provide rental car services to Marfa airport. 

Conversation about City of Presidio spending money on police dept rather than contracting with county. Could save them over $150,000 and provide county with an additional South County deputy. Beebe says it worked better for the City of Marfa, saved money, better situation all around. Advocates for hiring a full time deputy in Presidio rather than having the reserve situation that currently exists which he believes Chief Deputy Nunez uses as a way to consolidate power and influence along with his dual role as Chief Deputy and PISD police chief. County trucks in the hands of PISD part timers, no accountability, just gifts. Beebe mentions this actually may or may not be true, but it is his opinion, that the city of Marfa did it, and it has been much better for the City to use the Sheriff's Office, despite any problems the Sheriff's office may have. 

Hernandez asks if any dept heads have suggestions. Virgie says that the County needs to provide for itself first before helping other entities. Katie Sanchez agrees. Hernandez says that he agrees but by helping other entities it helps the citizens. 
Katie and Virgie both say that everyone at the County has had to cut but not other entities. Discussion. Points made that employees and dept heads have had their taxes go up, office budgets go up, no pay raises in years and outside entities never have to cut, why is this? Asking county employees to do more with less and still give outside entities the same, no cuts to them.
Hernandez agrees that everyone, including all other entities must cut. More discussion. Patty agrees to look into non-departmental. 
People make case against county having to raise tax, giving money away, raising our own tax rates, cutting our own budgets, providing fewer services.
Katie as that outside entities get about $220,000. 10% cut would save $22,000. 
Hernandez is interested. City of Presidio and Presidio EMS alone is $136,000.
Agrees cuts are needed. 
Tough times. Progress being made, everyone agrees. 

Patty is on the computer explaining numbers to Aranda. Hernandez getting more info from Virgie. Loretto and Judge are having conversation about the numbers.

End of budget discussion.

Item 7- no action

Item 8 -no action

Item 9- no action
Item 10- adjourned at 8:03 PM

Presidio County Commissioners Court Budget Workshop Agenda August 16, 2016 5PM, Marfa


Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Notes from Presidio County Commissioners Court meeting Aug 9 2016, 9:00 AM, Marfa

Here are my notes from today's Presidio County Commissioners Court meeting. A reminder: I take notes during the meeting and only review and adjust notes when absolutely necessary, so as not to re-edit conversations, etc to reflect my biases. Please excuse typos and/or some incomplete info, as well as abbreviations or use of first or last names arbitrarily for certain officials and County employees.

Thank you for your interest in local and regional policy! -DB

Presidio County Commissioners Court August 9th, 2016, 9 AM

9:00 convene

Quorum present: Judge Guevara, Jim White, Loretto Vasquez. Not present: Lorenzo Hernandez, Eloy Aranda

Item 4- no public comments

9:04 AM, Lorenzo Hernandez arrives as does Atty John Fowlkes

Judge Guevara's comments: reading a letter to commissioners. Received this letter July 13, Jessie Lea Schneider announces resignation. 
She is leaving to pursue other opportunities.  Husband is a beer judge and has an offer in Oregon. 
9:05 AM, commissioner Aranda arrives
Possible replacement comes from A&M. A&M wants commissioners to vote to reaffirm the position. It will likely take some time to fill position. 
Judge attend RGCOG meeting and has been selected to participate in a new 911 locating system based on geospatial data. As opposed to addresses. 
Kathryn Crumpton in Alpine at old Centennial school building is in charge of 911 addresses. Encouraged to visit her. 
Budget workshop timeline has been delivered via email to commissioners and department heads. 
Hernandez wants to know who decided on the times and dates of the meetings. Judge says that she set them up but commissioners can have input now that proposed meetings can be set. Asks if this was supposed to have gone through commissioners court. Judge says it did not have to go through court, but now commissioners can have input. 
Hernandez has some problems with times of meetings. Some in Presidio are earlier, some in Marfa are in the evening. Why? Judge explains that some of these meetings are scheduled to directly follow commissioners court meetings. 
Judge brings up that Jeff Davis County will be billing for EMS services when they have to cover. Judge wants to attend their meetings and bring info to budget. Federal standard rate is $22/mile for EMS. Jeff Davis EMS director advocating for $15/mile. 
Want to bill the individual who is taken to the hospital but have Presidio County advance the money. Any reimbursements from insurance companies would be reimbursed to us. Judge has done some of her own math on this and thinks it is extremely important to get this right with Jeff Davis County, hope to work together. 
Jeff Davis County will bill Presidio County and City of Presidio. City of Presidio has agreed. Meeting with Teresa Todd today about this. 
City of Marfa covers Valentine because they are closer, Jeff Davis has an interlocal agreement with City of Marfa. Judge talks about how the County is fortunate to have data now that cities are reporting activities re EMS.
More talk about meeting times, locations, citizen access to meetings.
Hernandez he received an email from the Sheriff's Office regarding sick leave pool. Joel Nunez wants to donate hours to another employee (Isidro Garcia). Hernandez wants to know if there is a committee that is in charge of this. Treasurer is in charge of sick leave and all payroll items. 
Committee for that has not yet been formed even though commissioners agreed to convene one. 
Next agenda will need to have an item to form this committee. 
No, actually there is a committee as part of the sick leave policy already. County Treasurer, Judge, Clerk, auditor and Crystal Funke are on committee. Treasurer is director. Hernandez says that is not a good committee in his mind. Only one person from Presidio, nobody from jail or Road and bridge. Judge would like to place an agenda item on next agenda to reappoint a committee with greater representation. 
Vasquez wants to know if there is anything commissioners can do in the meantime. 
Judge agrees this an urgent need. 
Aranda wants to help out long time employee Isidro Garcia, keep him employed and help him with his medical needs. 
Judge mentions that she is having trouble managing every part of the county's business. Treasurer sent emails to all department heads, officials, but employees did not turn everything in. Virgie says everyone was given this, but some dept heads did not get info to their employees. Judge says she will call TAC and research what we can do for Isidro after the sick leave runs out. 32 year employee, retirement benefits, disability need to be looked into.

Item 6- assign  and title vehicles owned by County to City of Presidio- Judge wants to table this item. This is grant-related and Judge made a mistake. White motions to table, Aranda seconds. Unanimous.

Item 7- approve Marfa Airport construction grant. Chase Snodgrass presents. 
Signatures needed. County may be missing a specific workplace policy needed as per grant. Drug and alcohol policy for County may need to be amended. 
County has already paid TXDOT the $80,000 ten percent match, signatures get state's matching ninety percent of $720,000. 
Unanimous approval.

Item 8- Presidio-Lely airport construction grant: budgeted amount was $290,000. Two different material options. Longer lasting solution would be grip-flex for 3-4 times as long as coal tar asphalt. Costs to County would be $10,096.  Fuel sales are larger than expected, budget amendment could be made to improve project. 
TXDOT kicks in additional $30,000 if county puts in the $10,096. 
No effect on 2017 budget. 
White makes motion to approve. Seconded by Hernandez. 
Patty Roach says certain language needed for budget amendment. 
Judge makes motion to confirm auditors certification of increase in budget item. Seconded by White. Unanimous.

Item 9- rental vehicle at Marfa airport. Chase says this was a cold contact. Would like to place a brand new vehicle at airport for himself, with automated rental. Interested in parking fees, etc. will hire someone to clean car. 
Presently Marfa airport allows people to park cars for free under canopy on first come first serve basis. Alpine Auto Rental already leaves cars there sometimes, no fees. 
Commissioners could either let him do it for free or could make arrangements to charge him something. 
John Fowlkes says that this is needed, definitely. 
Alpine charges $125 just to bring a car. Losing airport customers. Recommends to approve, can augment agreement later. White motions to accept for no fee. 
Hernandez wants to know if County could take this on. John says that that has been talked about for years, but nobody has really jumped on it. White says we need to give this guy a chance, we can see how it goes. 

Item 10- Marfa Airport Development assistance from TXDOT.
FAA inspection pushed this forward a bit. Pavement at airport is failing in certain places. White wants to know if taxiway Bravo is closed. Yes, it is, officially. That is the one in front of Burt Compton's. 
Chase says that the FAA has no law enforcement authority, but they control the grant money. FAA wants that taxiway closed until it is rebuilt. Or taxiway can be removed from airport layout plan. Glider operation is now subject to a closed taxiway as only access to his hangar. 
Proposal is to include reconstruction of that taxiway in airport grant items. 
Requesting assistance from TXDOT to start the process. 
Also, expand parking apron large enough to include enough room for multiple corporate jets. 
FAA believes that TXDOT needs to plan differently for Marfa airport since we have so many planes over the weight limit. 
Chase's proposal also would add an updated airport master plan. 
Vasquez moves to approve. Seconded by Hernandez. Unanimous

Item 11- same item as above but for Presidio airport. Reasons Presidio airport needs to be improved are related to port improvements, including that fact that it is in the center of Northern Mexico. White agrees. 
Chase add updated airport master plan to item. Approved unanimously.

Item 12- emergency purchase to replace convection ovens and range at jail. $7500. 
Budget amendment.
Aranda moves to approve. Unanimous.

Item 13- administrative session- five minute break at 10:31 AM.
Reconvene at 10:44

Internal Auditor: Patty Roach. Says she has worked on cash balance analysis. After bills and payrolls until next commissioners court meeting we will have approx two million dollars in the bank. Jail and general fund combo. 
Norma Arroyo says that collections are very low at this point. 
91% collected this far FY 2016. Tax statements will be sent it forts week of Oct. 
3-4 months of operating budget in reserves. 
Warns against changing dates of budget meetings in case tax hearings need to be scheduled. Hernandez says he is not so concerned with dates of meetings, but more with the times, particularly in Presidio. 

Treasurer's report: submitted in writing. Hernandez says he would prefer reassured be here to present. 
White says we can refuse to accept her report. Hernandez would like to see all elected officials at the meetings to present. Discussion. Hernandez wants to skip to item C
Hernandez repeats that he believes she should be here, especially since the treasurer's office is so important to every part of county business. Judge says that commissioners may need to make a policy requiring attendance for presenting reports. 
Judge mentions that elected officials answer only to themselves and the public; no elected official can force another to do anything. She is disappointed that some do not make the sacrifice for the public interest. 
More discussion between commissioners about the problems the county is having right now with communication between departments and leaders not working together. 

OMB report: Katie Sanchez reports: checks written just under 465,000 dollars. 329,000 needs approval including 261,000 in payroll. 
Bank statements are reconciled through 6/30. General ledger reconciliations were requested by outside auditor. One RAMP grant receipt for reimbursement is missing. 
($1100). From 2014. 
Invoiced TXDOT for grant in the amount of just over $11,000. 
Talk about invoices, PO's and reimbursements prior to Sept 1st. Need to send email to dept heads reminding them of cutoff date.
Aranda says that some of the sheriff's office vehicles are from linebacker grants. Might have confused them with Stonegarden vehicles. Hernandez want to know about policy on vehicles. Atty general has not ruled on grant vehicles. Sheriff had provided some documentation that was referencing AG and grant vehicles. 

County clerk: Virgie Pallarez: county collect 10344.50, retained a
Was just over $8,000. District Clerk collected 1,993.52, retained about 1,200 dollars. 
Judge Guevara wants to know what the caseload is for district. Low caseload, Virgie says. 

Facilities manager: Sam Cobos not here today. Annex in Presidio undergoing major renovations, also Redford center. Report submitted in writing. 

Capital Projects manager: Ruben Carrasco is not here, no report submitted. 

Airports manager: accepted.

Tax Assessor report: Norma Arroyo. Working on rollover for delinquent taxes. Collected about $15,606 for county. Judge brings up additional information regarding tax values. 
Norma says that the values will be dropping from just over 473 million and new is 436 million and change. 37 million lost to new exemptions on electrical infrastructure. Means about a half million dollars less for county. 
Calculation for new effective tax rate will be .772, up about 15 cents. 
Last year was .63804, new .77902
New tax exemptions including the homestead exemption played major role. 
Rolls already certified, taking away exemptions could really put liability on the county. Could be sued for already publishing those exemptions. Too late to do this, Judge says, too risky.
Big problem for the county this year. 
Aranda says exemptions are good, but we did not anticipate as many as have been applied for. 
Patty Roach says that these decisions are going to be ugly. 
Aranda wants to use reserve money in jail fund to offset some of this inequity. 
Patty says that proposed budget rests on adopting the effective tax rate. Leaving the rate where it is leaves a $1.06 million deficit. Budgets per department have gone up, leaving even with effective rate deficit would be approx $600,000. Judge says that dept heads are being conservative in their budgets. Asking for things that they truly need. Does not include raises or new staff. 
Carlos Nieto has a comment: says Presidio school lost a lot of money on a solar farm credit. Has had to make adjustments. Beyond everyone's control. Federal credits. 
Says you may see added value in sale of public lands and likely were not added to rolls. Could see a bounce of money from land state sold. Hernandez says that is likely not very much money. Nieto says anything helps, small or large, and that it will be there for the future as well. 
Talk about exemption amounts. 55 totally disabled people in Presidio County get 100% exemption on homesteads for all agencies. Over one million impact. 
Patty says that using a combination of tactics will have to be used to make the budget happen. 
Nieto brings up future pipeline issues. Maximum value of pipeline will be seen in 2018.  Aranda says that using some reserves this year and can be made up in later years. Patty Roach says that if we do not raise tax rates and lower costs, that is not a proper way to fund. Jail will need a new HVAC system and needs to be funded. She is very wary about dipping into funds we do not already have. Hernandez acknowledges that we will have to raise the tax rate this year, may be able to lower later. 
Exemptions totaled loss to county of $509,000.
Major concern by commissioners about overtaxing people. 

JP 1- report given. $18,594.50 total, retained $11,714.81, disbursed to State $7206.89. 
Also warned commissioners about an angry constituent who was unhappy about notification on a suicide. Judge and constable will be sure people are notified to their own satisfaction in the future. Texas Ranger investigated how Sheriff handled next of kin notification in this case and determined that everything was proper. Effort will be made by Judge's office to be sure people are not angry about this in the future. 

JP2- 10,480 collected for July. 

Marfa EMS- accepted.

Presidio EMS- no report submitted. No action

Jail report: no report. Gracie is not in town.

Sheriff's office: no report. Shanna is out of town.

Judge will call and request reports for, jail and sheriff's office.

AG extension report: in writing, approved

Emergency Management report: Judge has no report. Gary Mitschke reports that the emergency operations facility at the airport we are trying to bring in relies on that taxiway being open. 
Aranda talks about farmers in Presidio valley, they would like to have permission to burn, and would like commissioners court to allow burning despite that one person who burned down phone poles. 
Gary says that they can submit an application and Presidio fire chief can approve. Applications are online on Presidio County website and also in person in Presidio. Burn ban still in effect. Expiring soon. 

Item 14- departmental advances and registrations. None

Item 15- line item transfers: tax office is getting ready to mail out tax statements. 
Capital expenditure for a computer at airport. 
Repairs at county yard in Presidio. 
Office supplies for JP 1. Transportation costs for OMB to Presidio. 
Sheriff's office transfer for reserves requested by Aranda. White says he though that was a one time payment. Aranda says this is just a transfer from suppose to labor within the sheriff's office budget. This is so the reserves can continue to operate. 
White wants to know is we are in compliance so we can go get the Stonegarden grant and get those funds for the reserves. 
Sheriff still has not signed conflict of interest statement. Hernandez is shocked. 
Judge says that commissioners addressed that in executive session last time but Hernandez was not there. This could mess up future grants. More discussion about sheriff not acting in best interest of the county and his own department for unknown reasons. 
All line item transfers approved. Hernandez moves, unanimous. 

Bills and expenses: Patty Roach says the list provided is no longer accurate, and the Treasurer is not here. She will review list to see what is correct. Reviewing list.
Judge moves to skip item for a minute and move to review the minutes of the last meeting. 

Looking at minutes while Patty goes through bills. 
Vasquez moves to approve minutes, seconded by Aranda. Approved unanimously. 

Back to bills.
Judge makes motion to approve bills as presented following review by auditor. Bill for courthouse expenditures from True Value. 
Bill for tech fund expenditure to Beebe omitted because not categorized properly.
Add $135.70 to sheriff's office for services. Several other small bills. 
Seconded by White

Adjourn at 12:27 PM