Commissioners kick the can on Host Agreement
By LPR Staff
Though they were presented with a draft Host Agreement last week, few Commissioners had ample opportunity to study it over the weekend, as Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Coastal Bend and barreled his way to Central Texas.
According to Commissioner Hoppy Haden, the citizen committee appointed to review and propose the contract with Green Group Holdings regarding the controversial landfill project in development in northern Caldwell County has made several recommendations for protections and benefits for the County, should the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approve the permit for the project.
However, the draft document was not distributed until Friday afternoon, just hours before Harvey made landfall.
“I know this is something that we need to move forward with, but I don’t feel comfortable talking about it until I’ve had more chance to review it, and I just didn’t have the time to get to it this weekend,” Commissioner Ed Theriot said.
Commissioner Eddie Moses agreed with him, as did Judge Kenneth Schawe.
Not breaking from his well-documented stance, Commissioner Joe Roland expressed reservations about entering an agreement at all. Roland, who representsthe precinct where the would-be landfill is located, has been adamantly against any negotiation of a Host Agreement.
The Commissioners opted unanimously to table discussion of the contract until their next meeting, slated Sept. 11. That date falls after the scheduled TCEQ hearing on the permit, which is scheduled on Sept. 6. By the time the Commissioners discuss the project, it should be known whether the permit will be granted. Haden had initially hoped to bring Green Group Holdings to the negotiating table prior to the TCEQ hearing.
In other business, the Court held extensive discussion on the County’s upcoming fiscal year budget, including the prospect of outside contractors providing services to several County departments.
Currently, the District Attorney’s Office holds a retainer agreement with an outside law firm to deal with voluminous Open Records Requests, which District Attorney Fred Weber says are “paralyzing my office.” In general, the requests deal with the landfill project; Houston investigator Wayne Dolcefino has made requests for hundreds of electronic and telephonic communications, and another attorney has made a request for any County correspondence that mentions the project. A massive request for documentation about a Memorandum of Understanding with the tubing outfitters on the San Marcos River is also on the table.
At Weber’s request, the Commissioners have decided to create a paralegal position in the DA’s office that will specifically assist with those requests, in hopes of offsetting the need for the outside vendor.
Caldwell County Sheriff Daniel Law made a request to engage an outside contractor, a doctor who will oversee medical operations at the Caldwell County Jail. Under the Sandra Bland Act, which takes effect at the end of this week, all county jails in Texas will be required to have medical staff on hand 24 hours a day.
Currently, though there are six medical officer positions slated in the budget, Law’s office only has one medical officer.
Contracting with an outside vendor, he said, would allow the county to eliminate those six positions, because the staffing would come from the vendor.
The Commissioners agreed to the request after some resistance, but then shot down a similar request from Unit Road Administrator Donald Leclerc, who had hoped to contract with a mowing company to mow the county’s right-of-ways, freeing up his staff to focus on the now-daunting task of repairing the county’s roads.
The Caldwell County Commissioners Court routinely meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in the Second Floor Courtroom of the Caldwell County Courthouse. The meetings are open to the public and available for viewing at www.co.caldwell.tx.us.