By CLINT FOSTER
PALO PINTO – About halfway through Monday’s session of Palo Pinto County Commissioners Court, the discussion got almost as heated as the July weather outside.
The county’s justices of the peace voiced their discontent about the current timetable, during which they have to deposit money collected at their offices.
According to Palo Pinto County auditor Steve Watson, the current policy, which follows state law, states that whenever a “material amount” of money - in other words, $500 or more - is collected at a justice’s office, it must be deposited either with the county treasurer or in a bank account controlled by the treasurer each day. Checks can be deposited remotely, but any cash payments must be deposited in person.
“This hasn’t been a problem in the past because they had a sub-depository account in Mineral Wells and at Possum Kingdom Lake,” Watson explained. “But that contract expires this week, so that won’t be an option anymore. So, it’s making them have to drive further.”
Not only does the contract expire, but Watson added that the bank whose contract expires refused to renew it and the window for renewal will not open for another four years. While this may not appear to make a difference, the justices all present at court said the majority of payments they receive are in cash. In fact, one justice indicated that over half of the money he receives comes in the from of dollar bills.
“We have a problem, guys. I’m asking you to solve it,” Palo Pinto County Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace Bobby Hart said in Commissioners Court Monday.
“I really don’t have any problem with the material amount,” Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Shawn Humphries added. “I do not want to drive here for $20. I want the leeway that when I get $500 and it takes me three days then I’ll come [50 miles] to see you. I don’t want to hold an amount of money that I feel like I’m in jeopardy with either.”