By Kathi Bliss
The County’s expected purchase and renovation of the former WalMart building south of Lockhart took center stage during the regular meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court on Monday.
Representatives from Austin-based Broaddus and Associates, the consultants the Court has chosen to help secure architects and construction personnel for the remodel project, came forward in hopes of amending their contract to include procurement of a Construction Manager At Risk.
The proposal was met with some resistance by the Commissioners, who seem to still be unsure what direction should be taken with the massive renovation project.
Commissioners Joe Roland and Fred Buchholtz expressed concern about moving forward with attempting to find the Construction Manager At Risk at this time.
Roland suggested he wanted to make sure local contractors could be involved in the process if they chose to be, and Buchholtz said he needed more time and would like to meet with the architect.
After extensive discussion on the matter, the Court chose to table discussion until their next regular meeting.
In a related item, several area Fire Chiefs approached the Court about setting up a “non-destructive training” in the space.
Lockhart Fire Department Chief Jerry Doyle said use of the building for training would be an important cooperative effort for the departments involved, which include the San Marcos and Luling Fire Departments, because the opportunity to train in large commercial spaces is so rare.
Doyle said training on several fire and rescue operations could be held without doing any damage to the building.
After discussion from the County’s civil attorney Mack Harrison about the insurance and liability issues involved with such a training, the Court decided to hold off on making a decision until the County has actually taken possession of the building.
In other business, sparks flew when County Auditor Larry Roberson threatened to terminate the FuelMan Cards held by employees of the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department.
The conflict began when Roberson attempted earlier this year to draft an employee policy regarding the use of the cards – specifically authorizing the County to withdraw funds from an employee paycheck if an employee was found to be using the card improperly. He referred to the measure as an “internal control” and suggested that deducting money from an employee’s paycheck would be a last resort, in the event other methods of correcting errors were ineffective.
Law, it seems, advised his employees against signing the policy, and has requested an opinion from the Office of the Attorney General to tell him if it is legal for the County to enact such a policy.
Roberson asked the Court to authorize an expenditure of $1,650, which would purchase full-page advertisements in both county newspapers, explaining the policy.
After heated discussion on the policy, which Commissioners encouraged Roberson to find a way to settle with Law (who was not present at the meeting), the Court opted to deny Roberson the requested funding for the ads.
In brief news:
The Court approved polling locations and election judges for the upcoming General election.
For the second time, the Commissioners chose to table an order setting the fees for process service by the Sheriff’s Office and Constables, pending additional research on the fees charged in surrounding counties. The fees are expected to be brought back for approval on Sept. 17.
They approved the purchase of two dump trucks, at the cost of $194,592. The funds for the purchase will come from the county’s excess revenues collected during this budget year, with additional funds, if necessary, coming from the County’s reserves.
Madrigal cautioned his colleagues about what he said was becoming a “habit” of dipping into the County’s reserves for capital expenditures.
The County paid bills in the amount of $601,352.57.
The Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court meets on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in the Conference and Training room at the L.W. Scott Annex, 1403 Blackjack St. (FM 20E) in Lockhart. The meetings are open to the public and interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend.