Commissioners raise election workers' pay to $10 per hour

By Robert Morales —

Culberson County Commissioners met on Tuesday instead of the regular day on Monday because of the Veterans Day holiday. Commissioners ran through a long list of agenda items beginning with Lanie Koch, County Extension Agent.

She reported that she and her staff were gearing up for the Annual Trans-Pecos Big Buck tournament Nov. 29 through Dec. 16 and for the yearly livestock show to be held in January.  Ms. Koch also reported that the 4-H Club and volunteers celebrated One Day 4-H on Oct. 12 by cleaning up litter on more than three miles on Hwy. 90 and Hwy. 54.

County Clerk Linda McDonald provided commissioners with one proposal for digitization of records and suggested that commissioners consider hiring a part-time employee to scan and index records that are currently stored in bound books. Ms. McDonald stated that such an employee would be used strictly in that capacity and would save the county considerable funds instead of using an outside company to do the work.

She asked commissioners to read the proposal for action at a future meeting.

Ms. McDonald also reported that it was becoming more difficult to find election workers largely because of the low pay of $7.25 per hour. Commissioners agreed and voted unanimously to increase election workers' pay to $10 per hour, effective at the next primary election in March 2014.

She added that the records digitization project was going to necessitate acquiring new computers and scanners. Commissioners suggested that Ms. McDonald investigate purchase/lease options for whatever she needed for the project.

Commissioners later turned their attention to two questionable bills, one for airport repairs from L & P Enterprises, and an invoice from RTC for a new antenna and repairs to a repeater station at the Sierra Diablo Ranch. According to Auditor Mark Cabezuela, the repairs were not authorized by anyone and no purchase orders were issued. Commissioners asked Mr. Cabezuela to contact both vendors and ask them to come to the next commissioners' court meeting before the bills were paid.

Commissioners asked Treasurer Susie Hinojos to reiterate the county's policy on payment for invoices that were a result of authorized purchase orders only.

In other action:

•Commissioners decided to pay normal water rates as opposed to the discounted rate for the cemetery as a way to make up a funding shortage related to the county's portion of funding the library in the amount of $13,000.

• Commissioners took up the issue of acquiring a survey of county land near the airport to get a legal description for 100 acres that the county was going to donate to the Town of Van Horn for an ATV Park. The park will be constructed as part of a grant awarded by the Texas Parks and Wildlife department.

•Commissioners agreed to request bids for labor to paint the curbs at the cemetery, which have only partially been painted through locals doing community service. There was also a unanimous agreement from commissioners and Judge Carlos Urias to buy Christmas decorations for the courthouse.

•Mr. Urias then reported on a long list of needed improvements to county buildings and properties and requested that commissioners prioritize the improvements. Commissioners agreed with Judge Urias that the repairs and renovations to the former Big Bend Community Action building, should be the first on the list. The building will be the new home of the local food bank, which will be providing food for many needy locals especially during the coming holidays. The other improvements discussed were repairs to the MHMR building which floods whenever it rains, repairing the east wall of the County Records building which deteriorates also when it rains, painting the firehouse and replacing the fence at the Utility Barn.