County weighs pros, cons of regional planning organization membership


By LPR Staff

Regional growth dominated the discussion during the regular meeting of the Caldwell Commissioners’ Court on Monday.
Joe Cantalupo, the executive director of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) approached the Court to discuss the possibility of bringing Caldwell County under the umbrella of CAMPO

, which already includes Travis, Hays and Williamson Counties.

“We need to address the fact that the population is growing and there is more county-to-county travel than in the past,” Cantalupo said. “A regional partnership for transportation planning is good for us all, because it fulfills a coordinating role for local governments, as well as other transportation providers and other agencies.”

CAMPO’s main goal is to provide a regional transportation plan as the area continues to grow in population. Participation in the organization will open the door to additional funding and more bargaining power for Caldwell County in dealing with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) on upcoming projects.

However, as a member of CAMPO, Caldwell County projects would be subject to regional prioritization, with Caldwell County transportation projects being measured in regional importance against the projects in surrounding areas.
“We attend every meeting we can, and we want to think on a regional scale, but it’s hard to think regionally when you’re the “L” in regional,” County Judge HT Wright said. “We get involved, but because we’re a small county and a poor county, we are always the last one on the list.”

Cantalupo admitted that some Caldwell County projects may continue to pale in comparison to those requested by other CAMPO members, but that the involvement of Caldwell County in the organization is important on a regional scale.

Ultimately, the Court decided to wait on their decision until they receive more information on how CAMPO membership might impact pending projects with TxDOT. They expect to revisit the proposition later this year.

In other business, the Court heard reports regarding ongoing maintenance and remodeling projects throughout the county.

Maintenance Director Curtis Weber reported the remodel of the Caldwell County Court Annex is going well, with completion of the project expected in the near future.

A main holdup in the project, Weber said, was a delay in the installation of the sprinkler systems.

Also, the construction is complete and a certificate of occupancy has been granted for the Caldwell County Jail Annex. Wright said Sheriff Daniel Law is in the process of staffing the annex, and should be ready to move inmates into the new building soon.

In brief news:

Despite moist weather conditions this week, the Commissioners agreed the risk of wildfire remains high, and declined to lift the outdoor burning ban.

They discussed the possibility of charging a small rental fee to other governmental bodies for the use of the county’s electronic voting machines. According to Tax Assessor-Collector Mary Vicky Gonazales, the rental fees would be used to offset maintenance and software costs for the machines.

The Court granted a bid to Unique Renovations, of Hutto, in the amount of $29,000 for interior painting and drywall work in the Caldwell County Courthouse. Commissioner Tom Bonn voted against granting the contract, instead voting in favor of contracting ANKO Industrial Painting and Contracting. ANKO offered the low bid of $28,000. However, ANKO is based in Baltimore, Md., and the other commissioners said they preferred to offer the job to a more local company.

Wright asked Commissioners Joe Roland and Neto Madrigal and 9-1-1 Coordinator Darla Law to assemble a list of names of county residents to participate in a “Complete Count Committee” for the upcoming 2010 Census.

The county paid bills in the amount of $139,509.61, which includes $12,044.02 in indigent legal defense costs.

The Caldwell County Commissioners routinely meet 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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