By CHRIS AGEE
Palo Pinto – As District Judge Jerry Ray’s retirement date nears, county commissioners voted Monday to replace his office’s computer prior to the arrival of his successor, Mike Moore.
Information Systems Manager Joe Fenley explained the project would provide seven new computers to replace outdated models in the offices of the district judge and district clerk.
He said the cost of the computers and one printer is expected to be $6,591.97, noting he feels the project is necessary since many of the computers are more than eight years old. The printer currently used in the district clerk’s office, he said, uses costly ink cartridges, explaining a new model would significantly reduce printing costs over time.
The initial cost of replacing the equipment will come from the county computer fund, Fenley said.
County Clerk Janette Green addressed commissioners about a project her office requested in conjunction with a newly acquired plat scanner.
She said existing plats must be entered into the county’s database before staff can utilize the new scanner.
Through a government contract, she said Kofile Solutions can transfer all plats into the system, repairing any that have been damaged.
Green said the “absolute max” cost after all repairs are made will be $8,000, noting her office will begin charging $10 per sheet for plat copies.
Commissioners unanimously approved the project along with the purchase of additional security cameras for the county clerk’s office.
Green explained there is an elevated potential for theft – specifically of pages from books in the office’s basement – associated with having just one security camera.
Fenley noted the courthouse’s current camera system is full and additional cameras would be added to a new system. He said any additional cameras will feature motion activation and footage will be stored on a computer hard drive.
In other business, commissioners:
• Discussed banning or restricting the sale and use of fireworks. County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell explained the Keetch-Byram Drought Index was 564 as of Monday morning with a 14-day average of 572.
He explained he will be attending a class in Houston this week to discuss issues associated with fireworks and agreed to meet with commissioners Friday to possibly act on the matter.
Commissioners tabled the item until Friday.
• Discussed the active outdoor burn ban in the county. County Judge David Nicklas explained the existing ban is active for about two more months and Harwell noted little fire activity over the past week.
He said he was called out to several small grass fires, though three were extinguished prior to his arrival and none posed any significant danger.
• Approved appointments to the Palo Pinto County Historical Commission. Mike Lewis, co-chair of the commission, said a number of inactive members were replaced by new appointees.
“We think these are people that will help us grow stronger,” he said.
• Accepted sealed bids for motor fuel, road materials, and asphalt.
Wilson Lubricants was the only bidder for motor fuel and commissioners unanimously accepted the bid.
Based on three road material bids, commissioners customized their respective precinct’s providers by choosing to accept the bids of Vulcan Materials, Rob Joe Materials, Zack Burkett Co., or a combination thereof.
Commissioners voted to accept Southern Asphalt and Petroleum’s bid for asphalt, selecting Heartland Asphalt Inc. as a secondary provider. In total, the county received four asphalt bids.
• Approved setting the bond amount for elected officials, voting to maintain the current amount of $10,000 for sheriff and $1,500 per constable.
• Approved funding agreements for Gordon Library and C.A.R.E. in the amount of $2,500 each.
• Approved the year-end auditor’s report for Fiscal Year 2012. County Auditor Sharon Allen explained lower-than-expected expenditures totaling $10,049,009 allowed the county to add $237,255 to its general fund reserves, bringing its balance to $4,651,872.
• Approved the delinquent-tax attorney’s report. In his last report of the year, Charles Brady said recent trends show positive momentum in collecting delinquent taxes.
In the past five months, he said outstanding taxes have decreased to $2.141 million from a high of $3.107 million. He said most of those owing taxes are on a payment plan, which he said is far more effective than relying on lawsuits.
“I think we can expect better performance this year than last year,” he said.
• Approved changing the description of the commissioner’s secretary position to “part-time” instead of attaching specific minimum or maximum weekly work hours.
• Approved District Judge Jerry Ray’s expenditures in excess of approved limits prior to the end of his term in office.
• Approved the request to re-plat Phase 3, Section 5A, Lots 783-R and 784-R of The Hills Above Possum Kingdom Lake.
• Approved the request to re-plat Phase 3, Section 5A, Lots 780-R, 793-R and 794-R of The Hills Above Possum Kingdom Lake.
• Tabled the request to re-plat Phase 3, Section 5, Lots 686 and 687 of The Hills Above Possum Kingdom Lake.
• Approved the request to re-plat Phase 3, Section 5, Lots 688, 689 and 690 of The Hills Above Possum Kingdom Lake.