County secures financing for jail annex
By LPR Staff
The Caldwell County Commissioners Court approved a resolution on Monday to purchase nearly $500,000 in tax notes to build additions to the Caldwell County Jail.
According to First Southwest Company, the County”s financial advisors, several area banks, including four local organizations, responded to the call for bids on
the tax notes. After reviewing the bids, First Southwest advised the Commissioners to accept the bid from American National Bank to issue the debt.
The Commissioners agreed to accept the bid and pursue closing the tax notes. If all goes according to schedule, the notes should close by Sept. 8, 2006, allowing the county to begin construction on the jail annex almost immediately.
Of the $470,000, around $320,000 has been earmarked for the jail project. On Aug. 21, the County requested an addition to the tax note proposal, allowing for an additional $150,000 for a brush chipper and other maintenance purposes.
In connection with the tax note purchase, the Commissioners approved a resolution that will allow the County to reimburse itself for certain expenses incurred before the issuance of the tax notes.
In other financial news, the Commissioners engaged in extensive discussion regarding the 2006-2007 fiscal year budget.
Since last week, the office of Caldwell County Auditor Sonny Rougeau made several changes to the budget, many in light of comments made during the last Commissioners” Court meeting.
According to County Judge H.T. Wright, the Caldwell County Appraisal District Board of Directors made significant cuts to their budget, with Caldwell County”s portion of the reduction totaling around $18,000. Wright noted that additional cuts to the CCAD budget could be on the way. Additionally, nearly $62,000 is allotted in the Caldwell County budget for employees who do not utilize the County”s hospitalization insurance.
Rougeou said that if the funds were reallocated, the County could fill several budget requests, including Justice Homer Horne”s request for a full-time clerk at the Justice Precinct Two office, and requests from the Lockhart-Caldwell County Animal Shelter and EMS Services.
The Commissioners will have a budget hearing on Monday, Aug. 28, 2006 at 9 a.m. to discuss the budget further.
In other Commissioners” Court news, the Commissioners opted to leave an outdoor burning ban in place.
“The grass is so short that [grass fires] aren”t going very far,” said Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Parker. “But the only things out there that are green are the mesquite and the goat weed.”
Despite the burn ban, Parker asked that county residents remember that they are allowed to burn household trash outdoors, provided they use a proper receptacle and a screen to keep the burn contained.
At the request of County Treasurer Lori Rangel-Pompa, the Commissioners changed a portion of the County”s employee benefits policy.
“We”ve gotten in situations where employees come and get our insurance, then immediately make claims and leave,” Rangel-Pompa said. “When they do, we take the hit on our claims and our prices.”
Rangel-Pompa suggested that the county initiate a “probationary period” requiring employees to complete 90 days of employment before receiving medical, life and disability benefits. After some discussion as to how the change might affect the county”s ability to recruit new employees, the Court accepted the proposal.
In brief Court news:
The panel heard reports from several county departments, including the Extension Agents, Indigent Health Care and Tax Collection.
They approved an additional payment of $1,200 to the contractor working on the Caldwell County Tax Office.
The County paid bills in the amount of $182,791.83, including $3,275 for indigent legal defense and $49,580 for inmate housing in Comal County.
The Caldwell County Commissioners meet on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse.