Commissioners retain burn ban, approve tower clock, and return to budget challenges

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The Robertson County Commissioners took a brief break from budget discussions to handle routine business items Monday afternoon.  It began the session with a public hearing over the District and County Court’s continuing efforts to scan and maintain all of their records going back to the 1800’s in digital format.  When no one responded to Judge Jan Roe’s request for questions or comments, the hearing closed and, 10 minutes later, the regular session began.  

The court recorded office revenues of over $38,600 for the County Clerk’s office, and $13,848.20 for the District Clerk’s office. The panel also agreed to allow the District Clerk to raise filing fees from $5 to $10 per archive filing.  It approved a tax refund for a resident who had overpaid and agreed to hold a referendum during the May election cycle over the proposal to build a new jail.

Under “construction-related items,” Judge Roe stated that adding a clock to the historic courthouse tower had proven to be a necessity rather than an option because the tower clock appeared in the contract with the Texas Historical Commission.  The panel approved a clock face and hands so that the clock with four faces could be purchased and placed in the new but historic clock tower.

The Commissioners decided to retain the burn ban since the county has received no rain in sufficient amounts to relieve drought conditions. The panel named a private road off of FM 2549 “Filar Lane” and accepted the auditor’s report for the Emergency Services District.

Next, the panel approved its indigent Health Care Agreement with the Brazos Valley Council of Governments for $41,500 and declined to enter into an interlocal agreement with Lubbock County to participate in the Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases Program.  County DA Coty Siegert pointed out that the agreement, which would become very expensive in its fourth year, would provide insurance to cover part of the cost of prosecuting a capital case (one carrying the death penalty).  Siegert said he didn’t think it was worth the expense because the County had not prosecuted a capital case in over 20 years and Brazos County had the insurance but was still out over $400,000 in a capital case it was currently prosecuting. 

The Court agreed to purchase two cars for the DA’s investigating team, and agreed to participate in the County Road Transportation infrastructure grant program available through TxDOT.  It also approved a rental agreement with Applied Concepts for the acquisition of radar for county law enforcement vehicles.

The panel approved the construction of a cul-de-sac at the end of Reynolds Ln. just outside the Hearne city limits and decided to ask Jetta Operating Company for additional information before it allowed it to bore a passage for electrical lines under Pin Oak Rd.  It approved Tri-County Special Utility District’s request to construct a waterline under Bartkowiak Rd.

Before returning to budget discussions, the Court approved two adjustments to its current budget and an invoice listing of over $330,700.  It accepted bids for County dental insurance and opted to retain its current issuer, Guardian.  It also approved replacing the copier in the Robertson County Community Supervision and Corrections Department with a better machine at a lower cost to the County.

Commissioners approved AFLAC as its agent to service county Colonial accounts and accepted an expenditure report from the Bremond Public Library.  It also responded to a request for $500 from the Robertson County Historical Commission to establish a webpage by shifting the proposed expenditure from the County general fund to the HOT (hotel occupancy tax) fund.  

With its entire regular session agenda items addressed, the Court adjourned into a budget workshop session.  With significant cuts in Road and Bridge and transfers from the 2013-14 to the current budget ending on September 30, the County is still looking at a tax increase of 3.5 cents on every $100 valuation or about a $26 increase in county taxes to the average household.  

District Court Judge Robert Stem is still hoping to improve courthouse security, added Roe.  “Courtsync,” an advanced communication system which would expedite communication between offices if an intruder threatened, could be tied into the county’s Copsync program—one it has already purchased—at minimal cost, said Roe.  Another solution could be a camera monitoring system.  

The Court returned to regular session to adjourn with plans to meet again on Friday to complete the budgeting and tax rate adopting process.

Melissa Freeman / Robertson County News

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