Commissioners lift burn ban, plan election


By LPR Staff

After some members experienced difficulty in arriving on Monday morning, the Caldwell County Commissioners” Court attended to a number of routine business items in preparation for the coming election.
Precinct Four Commissioner Joe Roland arrived a bit late to the meeting, held up he said by flooded roads in his district

after Sunday evening”s torrential downpours. Although they expressed concern that a few dry days would overcome any good done by the rains, the commissioners agreed unanimously, after a recommendation by Fire Marshal Jeff Wright, to lift the outdoor burning ban that has been in place the last few weeks.
Although rain continues to appear in the forecast through next week, County Judge H.T. Wright, after discussing it with the rest of the Court, may reinstate the burn ban at any time, should he feel and the commissioners agree, that it is necessary.
In other business, the Court discussed a number of issues regarding the upcoming May 12 election, including holding one public hearing regarding a new taxing district.
In a very short public hearing regarding the creation of the Caldwell-Hays County Emergency District One it became evident that people are either unaware of the possible creation of a new taxing entity in Caldwell County, or they don”t object.
No one attended the duly advertised public hearing to speak either in favor of or against the creation of the emergency services district.
In the event the district is approved by voters in the May 12, 2007 election, the district will be able to levy taxes up to ten cents per hundred dollars of valuation on structures within the emergency services district, which encompasses much of northern Caldwell County.
In other election news, the County continues to have problems with election equipment and services provided by ES&S, one of the state”s leading suppliers of ballots, election scanners and electronic voting machine programming.
According to Election Coordinator Mary Vicky Gonzales, ES&S claimed earlier this year that they would stop servicing the County”s current ballot scanner, forcing the county into an expenditure upwards of $40,000 to replace the equipment.
However, in an announcement that drew ire from some of the commissioners, Gonzales said an ES&S representative had volunteered to service the equipment for one more election period.
“It seems to me that they are just trying to push us into getting this [more expensive equipment]” Wright said. “First they say they can”t service it, and then they decide they will… It just seems like bad business to me.”
Commissioner Neto Madrigal has been working with Gonzales to attempt to find a solution to the problem, and asked that discussion be tabled for another week.
Madrigal and Gonzales have been discussing the merits of trading some of the county”s electronic voting equipment for the new scanner. They are weighing the decision against the possible problems that could be caused if the county moved to all-electronic voting.
In still more election news, the County will hold the May 12, 2007 election, which should include a decision on two emergency services districts and State Constitutional Amendments, in conjunction with the City of Lockhart”s City Council Election. The entities came to the agreement because the city does not have the electronic voting equipment required by Federal law, and traditionally borrows the county”s equipment.
In other business, the Court heard from both County Clerk Nina Sells and District Clerk Tina Morgan regarding staffing and duties in their offices.
Sells originally approached the Court asking that two part-time positions in her office be made full time. After a question from Commissioner Tom Bonn regarding the District Clerk”s decision to discontinue passport renewal services, Morgan came into the conversation, indicating that her office is understaffed, as well.
The Commissioners will review the staffing requests with Sells, Morgan and County Auditor Sonny Rougeou to determine the best course of action in the situation.
In brief news:
The Court recognized William Beaty of Luling for the creation of the first and only “Li”l Dribbler” drug free basketball program in Luling.
They entered a Proclamation declaring the week of March 18-24 as National Agriculture Week in Caldwell County.
Commissioners unanimously approved a donation in the amount of $1,500 to the Community Health Coalition to hire an attendant for the Durable Medical Equipment loan program.
The county paid bills in the amount of $201,410.08, including $18,197 in indigent legal defense.
The Caldwell County Commissioners” Court meets on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse.


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