All commissioners and Judge in attendance.
Meeting convened at 1:49 PM
Judge attended RGCOG meeting in El Paso last Friday. Got a legislative update.
TAC representative Allen Bristol addresses court: he is a county relations officer.
Here to observe and assist if need be. Former county judge for Navarro County.
Judge says that this morning she and county atty, auditor and treasurer met with Marco Baeza from City of Presidio. Made an arrangement for city to reimburse the $131,000 owed. If commissioners approve, city will pay $6000 per quarter to relieve the debt. Will take some years to pay off. All money will be reimbursed.
Interest on amount will be zero.
Judge says that commissioners are going to have to review airport leases, currently some people pay, others do not. Mayor of Marfa says the city will contribute to CIP for airport once county has leases straightened out.
Talked to city of Presidio about funding for EMS rates and also activity logs.
Judge has asked them to provide more data to County in exchange for funding.
White says that he cannot understand why commissioners court cannot seem to get info from dispatch/Sheriff on activities related to emergency services. Judge says that she wants to talk to Sheriff and see if anything can be done. Judge Bishop says that all that data is easily available though dispatch logs. Names can be redacted.
Judge also says she has requested a copy of city of Presidio's budget with regard to EMS.
Hernandez says that City of Marfa gets its data from their collection agency for EMS.
Vasquez says that Presidio is unique in that CBP provides a lot of housing here for employees and taxes are not collected. Makes it difficult for the City of Presidio to fund EMS/fire. Perhaps we can ask them to help out with some funding.
Hernandez makes an announcement that he was invited to a meeting with the EPA and the Border Environmental Agency. Went to the meeting and they were talking about water system expansion north of City of Presidio. They are looking at possibly bringing city water as far as the airport. City has a 3.5 million dollar grant and plans to bring it all the way up to the cemetery. County could possible fund a booster station to bring water further to airport. 1.5-1.6 million dollars to do that.
Option two is to build a booster line and also a tank above Las Pampas to serve that area. Extra million or so dollars.
Rod Ponton says that the City of Presidio has to pressurize the water system to 120 psi right now to push it up to their water tank. Looking at building a new tank to relieve some of the pressure. Water line breakage is an issue right now.
Water well at airport was a dry hole. This could be an option.
Item 6: Budget workshop
Patty Roach presents. White says that by raising everyone's taxes we are burdening the taxpayers and we need to stop spending so much money. We need to stop spending money, we are spending too much. We are crushing the taxpayers, really hurting them.
Patty says that the deficit in the current proposed budget is now $226,916 with tax increase. M&O expenditures include new two new deputies, overtime for dispatch, no raises for county employees.
Money to fund this can come from jail reserves. Additional tax increase raises $238,837.
White asks about capital improvements for replacing the air conditioning at the jail. Yes, it is included. Just over $300,000 and it is in there, jail will still turn a profit. Water system problem at the jail, water pressure is not so good at times. Working on that problem.
Hernandez asks about individual budgets. Every dept went at least back to 2016 levels except for Sheriff's office. Patty says that non-departmental went up and Sheriff's Office went up.
Constable precinct two went up because Coker will be added to health insurance.
Aranda wants to know more about the HVAC cost at the jail. Have not yet spent any money on that project. Money was budgeted this past year, not spent. Patty says yes, it rolls forward. White says that taking care of the jail is top priority. Cannot risk losing it. Patty advocates for a five year maintenance plan to be considered and adopted for all county facilities and assets. Need to get that going a soon as possible.
White says we just do not have money right now to grant budget increase requests, gives example of the airport. Submitted a revised request for additional 100,000 dollars for capital improvements.
All that money would come from general fund. Airport does not generate enough money to cover it. Proposed raises for staff also would have to come from General fund. Money is not there.
Aranda wants to know more about airport request for money. Asks if there is any way to sell enough fuel to cover. Patty says no. This is for RAMP grant funding which is a fifty percent match from the state.
White reiterates that we have limited income and we cannot satisfy everyone's needs and wants. Essential services must be funded, everything else needs to be on the table. Spending way too much money. Judge Bishop says that the carpet in the annex needs to be replaced now, people are getting sick. Water leaked for years.
Aranda says that with regard to the airport that Chase has needed an employee at the Marfa airport, it is too busy to man by himself.
White mentions that Rudy has been a great help at the airport, and on weekends he is needed. Says that the county needs to advertise for a Fixed Base Operator to run this. Then money comes out of fuel sales. Judge says that what Chase is asking for is going to raise the tax rate, do we need this?
Hernandez is concerned that Chase may quit if we do not fund this. What then?
White says that if Chase was to quit then the County Commissioner in Pct one would have to cover it.
Patty says that everyone is replaceable. Virgie agrees.
White says that Chase has done a great job, but really not so much has changed ex let for overall improvements.
Hernandez says it is hard to know just how much work Chase has to put in.
White says that these two airports are rally different
Chase is asking for an additional $143,000. Employee and also re RAMP grant funding.
Hernandez wants to fund an employee and blow off the extra grant match money.
White says that air traffic at both airports will be increasing, but in order to fund this we would have to subtract from another budget.
Patty says that more reserves may be available, but it is risky. White says that if jail gets shut down we are sunk. Could happen overnight.
Judge revisits when Hugh Howard used to provide fuel at airport.
White says that the best the airport was ever ran was under Joe Moore. Hugh Howard did not maintain the facility well. We took it away from him because of this. Hired Chase later. Joe Moore as FBO was best but county commissioner and he got sideways and county ran him off.
Aranda says that at that time the FBO was only overseeing the Marfa airport, Presidio airport was absolutely dead. Johnny Williams had the contract, could not make it work. Since Chase took over, the Presidio airport has been a success.
White advocates for an FBO for Marfa, later possible try to get one for Presidio.
Brings up the contract that Chase presented to court a few months back. Commissioners rejected it because it was too lopsided. White says we need to stand our ground on this, what Chase is asking for this time is fairly similar.
Hernandez brings up contract proposal from Chase. John is not in favor. White says he read it and could not believe how lopsided it was. Katie says that the airport is not able to be leased out by the county as a condition of the RAMP grants. Aranda says he was not in favor of it. Hernandez says that we do not want to be held hostage, but we have to be conscious of the possibility of Chase leaving.
Hernandez says that Ron Anderson is interested in being the FBO. White says that Cade Woodard is interested as well. White says that even if we get an FBO we still need Chase to do grant admin, etc. Would cost county money to do this, lose a percentage of fuel sales. Has to work for all parties involved. Chase's proposal was far too lopsided.
Patty says that the county, if it wants to have a FBO, has to run the process. Has to be bidded out. Has to be run though OMB and done right. Not steered by a department, too much opportunity for a conflict of interest.
Hernandez wants to know about the $143,000. What are we doing here?
Judge asks where the money comes from.
Patty says we need some hard data. Need to know demand.
County needs to get its act together on the leases so that City of Marfa will contribute. Beebe says that the City of Marfa's request for accountability is totally reasonable, it is the same thing the county is asking of the City of Presidio with regard to EMS funding. Commissioners agree.
White says that no matter what We are on a path to bankruptcy and we have to stop. Judge says ok, we cannot fund this.
Abandoned motor vehicle fund request can be granted, money is still in That fund and is dedicated by statute.
Hernandez says that since we don't have money, what about the proposed raises for staff? We cannot fund those either. Judge says that we can still do the raise, to the tune of three percent or $97,000.
White says can't take that much out of reserves. Says that next year it's going to get worse if this vicious cycle of spending more than we earn does not stop.
Aranda brings up golf course lease. Proposes possibly selling some property out there to raise money and get it back on the tax rolls. One acre of land over there is worth between $7500-$10,000. White says ten thousand an acre is going rate.
County has about 300 acres. Could sell some of it.
Judge says that she has a meeting with Jim Allison, atty for us in that deal, on Wednesday. White says that if you read the lease draft, and understand it then you can make a judgment on it. Hernandez says he would rather sell it. Aranda and White agree.
Patty says we could sell the 300 acres that are not part of the golf course, not the same issue as the golf course itself.
Hernandez says we should revisit whether we want to sell or rent the golf course and additional nearby property.
Vasquez says that people in Marfa will oppose it. White says that a 99 year lease is essentially a sale. Rod Ponton agrees. White says the lease it so tight, we give up everything. White says that what will happen out there is they will mortgage the property with that lease, get the money, and there is no performance bond on that lease. They are not required to do anything at all. Vasquez says that we need to listen to our atty Jim Allison on this. Patty says that the law requires us to bid this project out. Bid must be done, we can't even talk about a lease until then.
Judge has meeting to Jim Allison this Wed at 4:00. White says that everyone needs to read the fine print in this lease.
Hernandez says lets get back to the budget, enough of this.
Aranda says that we can get more money if we sell this land. Patty agrees that there is vacant acreage that could be sold. White says this is good. Talk of getting a mortgage on the property. Rod Ponton says that is very complicated for a County to do.
Patty says that raises are not reversible over time. These are permanent commitments.
Lots of counties are having trouble with this, TAC rep says. Having to cut positions. Rod says that Pecos County has a huge issue with low oil prices and a giant tax rate.
Patty says that raises were last given in 2013. We have not been extravagant.
On the other hand, we still have to pay for whatever we do. Sale of property is a one time affair.
Hernandez says that selling to fund the budget is not a solution. White says that next year it will be the same problem. Need to stop spending. Individuals can control their income streams, but the county is locked in to a set level of income.
Raising taxes is not smart. We have a hugely large tax rate already and businesses are not going to come here with these costs.
Constable Coker brings up giving a bonus at Christmas rather than a raise. Patty says that the county is not permitted to give bonuses. Have to raise salaries or not at all.
Three percent raise costs the County $97,000. Talk of doing something less, or boost by a fixed amount to each employee paycheck. Aranda likes the idea is a fixed amount rather than tying it to a percentage.
Patty says that is a bit more complicated since some employees are salaried, some are hourly, some are part time.
Judge asks if they really want to do this. Silence. Vasquez says he hates to not give it to employees but this is tough. No money.
Advocates for giving raises to employees only, not elected officials.
Impact on budget unknown. No raise for elected officials and dept heads. Patty runs proposed numbers. Hernandez says that if we want to be fair we have to give it to everybody. White says that elected officials knew what the pay was when they ran for office.
Proposal would shave $20,000 off total extra expense. Hernandez says he would rather fund the airports than raises. Aranda says that everyone has to get a raise if any are given at all.
Proposal to give forty five cent per hour pay increase for hourly full time workers. Salaried would get $936 extra.
Aranda makes the motion to grant the three percent increase with everyone getting an equal share. Flat amount.
Workshop only, no motions can be made. Aranda repeats his proposal. Everyone is ok with it.
Elected official salaries must be published minimum ten days in advance of adopting budget.
Talk about JP 2 assistant salaries. Judge Bishop has two part timers. Wants to move one to full time. Commissioners had cut her budget by $6500.
Used to have a total of $27000 and change, same as JP 1, but now has been reduced.
Patty says that nobody has asked her if there can be a change. Need to know costs. Judge Bishop says that she has talked to Marsha, Katie and Cheryl about this. Makes her case.
Patty runs the numbers.
Judge wants 32 hours for full time worker.
Will cost county $3320 to do this.
Hernandez says this is worth it. White asks how much time do we have before we go bankrupt.clerks in JP 2 are paid $8/hr.
Hernandez says we should give Judge Bishop whatever she is asking for. $6500 requested.
End of meeting.
Adjourned at 4:08 PM