Commissioners go through long agenda, including part-time employee status

By Robert Morales —

Culberson County Commissioners Court met Monday night to address a
long agenda addressing a variety of topics starting with a request from
Rodney Tilley on current insurance rates for the county.

Mr. Tilley was informed that a state inspection had been performed
several weeks ago and that the county was awaiting a report from the
state, which should be forthcoming within the next four months.

The court then heard from auditor Mark Cabezuela, who presented his
continuing education hours for approval and asked the court to clarify
existing county policy regarding part-time employees.

According to Mr. Cabezuela, new federal guidelines mandate that
part-time employees who work more than 30 hours per week on a yearly
average will have to be reclassified as employees who must be provided
benefits.

With nine employees nearing that cap, the cost would exceed $56,000.
Sheriff Oscar Carrillo added that he was required by state and federal
guidelines to provide certain staffing requirements and that the
part-time help was being tapped to fill in for staff attending mandatory
training sessions or going on vacation. Commissioners agreed to try to
find a solution to the part time problem by the next meeting next
Monday.

In routine matters, commissioners agreed to advertise for liability
and workers compensation insurance, fuel, and county food vendor as well
as all other renewals for the upcoming 2013-2014 fiscal year. Before
hearing from County Treasurer Susie Hinojos, commissioners voted to hold
a budget work session next Monday, Aug. 19 at 6 p.m.

Ms. Hinojos asked commissioners to decide on health and employee
benefits package renewal with TAC-HEBP and whether to change the
insurance policies to a higher deductible.

Commissioners decided to wait to hear from the county's insurance
broker on available options including possibly offsetting the deductible
through the establishment of a self-insured program.

County Clerk Linda McDonald asked the court to approve District Clerk
and County Clerk archive fees in the amount of $10 per document, and to
approve a new printer to be used for elections because the current
printer was more than five years old and was practically non-functional.

The court also provided Ms. McDonald with a list of election judges
and alternates for the upcoming constitutional amendment election
scheduled for Nov. 5.

Tax Assessor-Collector Amalia Hernandez presented the court with the
current tax rate of .69621 and asked commissioners to consider before
September whether they wanted to keep the current rate.

Ms. Hernandez also reported that her office had collected 92.52
percent of county taxes, leaving 7.48 percent, or $193,140.89 still
uncollected.

Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, Rita Carrasco gave a detailed
PowerPoint presentation on the disposition of cases, and revenue from
the past five years. She explained that the decrease in court cases and
revenue was a result of the termination of two law enforcement
interdiction programs, which were funded through border security grants.

However, commissioners eventually ended the programs at that time
because of complaints from area residents and delayed reimbursement
times leading to a drop of almost 50- percent in revenue, of which 60
percent stays in the county.

In other matters, commissioners approved continuing education hours
for all commissioners, and voted to authorize Judge Carlos Urias to sign
a burn ban within the county for the next 90 days, and it was noted that the Town of
Van Horn also has adopted a burn ban within the city limits.
Commissioners also approved an engagement letter to continue auditing
services with Knapp & Company, P.C. Before adjourning, Commissioners
were encouraged to work on their respective wish lists in preparation
for the budget workshop on Aug. 19.