Benny Boyd

County focuses on saving money, upgrading services

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

Saving money was the order of the day during a marathon meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court on Monday. The meeting, which stretched for over four hours, included presentations from several vendors who hope to help the County save money and expand their services in the coming fiscal year.

The meeting led off with a p

resentation from Don Wallace, who approached the Court to discuss different methods for providing medical, dental and life insurance for county employees.

Wallace, of Seguin-based Wallace and Associates, said that his company, if contracted to negotiate insurance products for county employees, could help reduce the budget for insurance in a number of ways, including what he called a “self-funded” insurance plan, where insurance premiums are held in a trust of sorts, and used when they are needed to pay bills.

Because Wallace is the first of three vendors to make such a presentation, County Judge Tom Bonn suggested that his fees not be disclosed. Wallace was also vague as to the quotes on insurance products, or the cost to employees.

The second individual to speak to the Commissioners, Georgia Arnold, with Carolyn Arnold Communications Consultants, Inc., hoped to enter a contract with the county to review old phone bills and find overcharged bills, unused lines and improperly applied credits.

Arnold said her company, which has 22 years experience in negotiation with telephone companies, helps governmental bodies not only assess their communications needs, but does a line-by-line review of billing to determine if and where credits or overcharges are occurring.

Caldwell County’s civil attorney, Ron Heggemeier, said during the meeting that he still had concerns about the contract, but expected that contract to be negotiated in full prior to the next meeting of the Commissioners’ Court on June 20.

Arnold will be paid a portion of any refund or savings her audit reveals.

In a related item, Brian Beresford with Time Warner approached the Court with information about a telephone systems switchover which will migrate the county’s telephone and long distance service from AT&T to Time Warner.

The reason for the proposed change, according to Assistant County Auditor Liz Mundine, is an offer from Time Warner to significantly reduce the county’s long distance costs – perhaps by upwards of $1,000 per month.

However, the Commissioners opted not to move forward with a decision about Time Warner, pending the results of Arnold’s audit.

In other business, the Commissioners engaged in extensive discussion regarding an emergency declaration of disaster issued by Bonn earlier in the day on Monday, and the impact that declaration will have on the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

The Commissioners voted to support the disaster declaration, which imposes heavy restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks, and acknowledges the dire situation the county is in, with regard to searing temperatures and the ongoing drought.

In brief news:

The Court received financial reports and tax return documentation from three of the county’s volunteer fire departments. The records, according to Bonn, were requested from all the volunteer departments and are required for the County to continue to offer financial support to those departments.

They discussed the dedication of a new roadway in the Mustang Hollow subdivision. Under a previous agreement with the County, the Mustang Hollow Condominium Association and Flint Hill Resources financed the construction of a road in the area, as well as providing a deposit for maintenance on that road.

Commissioner Fred Buchholtz  informed the Commissioners that he has made proposed changes to the highly controversial Caldwell County Development Ordinance. Those changes, which were not made available to the public prior to the meeting, are suggestions that Buchholtz has made after an exhaustive review of the ordinance. A workshop to discuss the ordinance will be set in the near future, and a copy of Buchholtz’s current proposal can be obtained from the Caldwell County Judge’s Office, or at www.post-register.com.

The Court approved the purchase of dual-band wireless access routers for the Caldwell County Courthouse, the Scott Annex, and the Caldwell County Judicial Center. The total cost allocated for the purchase is $2,000.

The county paid bills in the amount of $240,103.78, which includes $25,674 for indigent legal defense and $6,885.37 for indigent health care.

The Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court routinely meets on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in the Conference Room at the Scott Annex, 1403 Blackjack St. in Lockhart.

kathibliss@post-register.

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