By Kathi Bliss
A tug-of-war continues in the Caldwell County Commissioners Court, as members of the Court move forward with budget talks for the upcoming fiscal year.
After an uneventful meeting during which the Commissioners heard updates on several County assets, they dug in to discuss the Fiscal year 2013-2014 budget recently proposed by Caldwell County Judge Tom Bonn.
Chief among the points of contention in the budget, Commissioner Joe Roland asked for a specific line item to show that the funds that would have been applied to the raises that the Commissioners opted not to take this year had been applied to the Unit Road System.
No line item exists for those funds, because they were not included in the budget, Bonn said.
Additionally, Roland noted that the funds for the salary and departmental costs for the County Administrator department had not been removed from the budget, despite a majority vote from the commissioners to do away with that department. He and Commissioner Neto Madrigal were vocal in their requests that the money from that department be applied to the Unit Road System.
In applying additional funds to URS for materials, Bonn expressed concern that a need might arise to add additional staff to the department. However, County Engineer Bill Gardner said it would not be necessary to add additional staff unless the additional material acquisitions were in the “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.
Budget talks will continue as the Court moves closer to approving the budget later this summer. The County’s proposed budget can be viewed at www.co.caldwell.tx.us.
In a related item, the Court was scheduled to hear reports regarding various County assets.
Though they should have heard a presentation about the use of the mobile scales the County purchased earlier this year for highway truck load enforcement, neither Constable Art Villarreal nor Constable Margarito Zapata, Jr., was available to attend Monday’s meeting.
Both will be asked to return at a later date to discuss the scales, if they are being utilized, and whether the Commissioners should consider either selling them or entering an agreement with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for use of the scales.
They also heard information about the lift purchased by the County two years ago for use by the maintenance department.
The lift is currently housed behind the maintenance barn, and though it has been used periodically in certain situations, Maintenance Supervisor Curtis Weber said that it is difficult to transport, and because a trailer is not available to haul it, it can only be utilized in a limited area in the County.
The lift has not been used throughout the ongoing Courthouse renovation project, as scaffold has rendered it unnecessary.
In brief news:
The Commissioners tabled discussion on an interlocal agreement with the City of Uhland regarding enforcement in their extraterritorial jurisdiction, as well as consideration regarding talks with Flint Hills Resources to assist in payment for paving of county roads in the Mustang Ridge area.
They opted to uphold the existing burn ban until further notice.