Larry Simpson appealed to the County Commissioners to remember the importance of the airport to the community, noting that the airport has seen increased usage over the last month, primarily due to deer season. He cited several areas of concern regarding the airport including the lack of lighting on the main runway, the lack of an Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) to provide much-needed weather information to pilots, and the need for runway striping. He also requested that the County consider having an engineering study done in order to re-rate the load bearing capacity of the runways. This is needed to accommodate larger jets. Simpson noted that the airport is bringing people to Van Horn which it turn brings dollars to the community. He also reported that recently Jeff Bezos had to divert to Carlsbad to land due to the runway lights being inoperable on the main runway. Simpson expressed concern with the continuing problems while acknowledging that he is aware of the County’s attempts at securing grant funding to address the issues. Judge Urias noted that the County has grant applications submitted for the runway lights, and has budgeted for the AWOS system. Funding is the only barrier to the improvements.
The Court also approved a waiver of penalty and interest on delinquent taxes for 2011-2015 for a taxpayer whose property was inadvertently left of the tax rolls during that time. County Attorney Steve Mitchell advised the Court that the tax code states that an entity “shall” waive penalty and interest if the accrual of the penalty and interest is caused by an act or omission of a taxing unit or the appraisal district.
The Commissioners then authorized Sheriff Oscar Carrillo to hire an additional deputy for the Sheriff’s Office at the base salary of $31,000/year. The Court had looked in to using unbudgeted revenue to help fund this position but was advised by the County Auditor Mark Cabezuela that the only unbudgeted revenue available at this time would be utility fees which are restricted to the maintenance of county roads. Contingency funds will be used to fund the additional salary at this time. The Commissioners discussed the feasibility of having the newer deputies housed near the airport to have a law enforcement presence there.
In other County business, the Court also
• Conducted an Executive Session with personnel action following in open session.
• Reached a deadlock on consideration of adjusting the salary of the County Extension Agent.
• Passed a resolution authorizing the submission of a community development grant application to the Texas Department of Agriculture for improvements to the food pantry.
• Approved Cornelio Garibay as the County’s nominee to fill a vacancy on the Culberson County Appraisal District Board of Directors.
• Approved a technology services package from County Information Resources Agency for $550.
• Tabled consideration of a change to the daily travel per diem reimbursement pending further information regarding IRS regulations.
• Approved the replacement of doors at the City-County Park at a cost of $3300.00 plus in-kind services.
• Scheduled the meeting to administer oaths of office to newly elected officers for January 3, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
• Approved a Utility Permit request from Conoco Philips for an overhead power line.
• Heard reports on County Projects.
• Approved monthly reports.
• Approved November payroll and expenses