County begins process for November General Election

By Becky Brewster

Culberson County Commissioners discussed the polling place locations for the November General Election and approved the relocation of the Precinct One polling place from the County Barn to the Convention Center.  County Clerk Linda McDonald also noted that there are issues with Precinct Two due to security cameras and Precinct 3-5 due to the imminent school construction.  If these issues are not resolved, McDonald will bring alternate locations for consideration to the next meeting.  The Court also appointed the Election Judges and Alternate Election Judges for the November General Election.

Becky Brewster, Grant Administrator, reported that there had been a sewer backup in the new Fire Station due to issues with the grease trap at a local restaurant.  The County Judge met with representatives of the Van Horn Volunteer Fire Department to discuss the possible rerouting of the sewer line to avoid problems in the future.  The Commissioners also approved a resolution to submit a 2016 TxCDBG Community Enhancement Grant application and to begin the procurement process for professional services for various grants.   The County is awaiting final notification of grant award for the 2016 TxCDBG Community Development Grant which will construct a new concession stand and restrooms for the Veterans Memorial Park.

Lainie Koch updated the Court on the recent activities of the 4-H reporting that four members participated in the Record Book Contest and four members had participated in the 4-H Congress in Austin.

The Commissioners received positive news of a good claim year for health insurance from Deborah Faulknor of the Texas Association of Counties resulting in a 1.5% reduction in rates for the next policy year. This goes against the 9% average increase across the state and will result in a savings to the local taxpayers.  The Court unanimously approved the renewal of the health insurance policy for 2016-2017.

Susie Hinojos, County Treasurer, reported that the property owner who owns property behind the County Financial Center has requested that the gas meter servicing the county building be moved from his property.  County Attorney Steve Mitchell advised the Court to check into the ownership of the properties and the property boundaries before proceeding.

Molly Hernandez, Culberson County Tax Assessor-Collector, provided the Court with the Certified Taxable Values for the 2016 Tax Year, noting that values had decreased by approximately $20 million.  Based on these values, the 2016 Effective Tax Rate is $.39023/$100 valuation and the rollback Rate is $.42144/$100 valuation.  The Commissioners will determine the tax rate needed to fund the 2016-2017 Budget after the budget is finalized.  Hernandez then received approval for the Annual Report for the 2015 Tax Year stating that the County had a 97.5% collection rate with $81,927.36 remaining delinquent as of June 30 this year.

Commissioners then continued the 2016-2017 Budget process by discussing various proposed projects, equipment needs, staffing issues and requests from local entities.  The County noted that the top two project priorities for FY 2016-2017 are the creation of a judicial center to bring the County into compliance with State regulations and the replacement of the airport lighting system since this is affecting emergency transportation for healthcare issues.  The Commissioners then voted to approve a 5% increase in the salaries for elected officials to allow them to go forth with the statutory process for adopting these salaries, (see copy of Public Notice on proposed salaries in this edition of The Advocate).

In other County business, the Court also

• Approved a Utility Permit Request to cross County roads.

• Approved the Area Agency on Aging Vendor application for the Nutrition Center for 2016-2017.

• Approved the audit engagement letter with Knapp and Company for FYE 9-30-16.

• Heard a report on the ongoing comp time issue noting that the hiring of a full-time dispatcher will reduce the comp time in that area.

• Tabled consideration of per diem reimbursement for daily travel.

• Agreed to advertise for proposals to clean the dike on the Whitehead Ranch.

• Approved a Borderplex Workforce Development Area Interlocal Agreement.

• Appointed a salary grievance committee.

• Heard reports on County Projects.

• Approved budget amendments.

• Approved June payroll and expenses.