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Decision puts pressure on Onalaska scofflaws to pay up


By Greg Peak

LIVINGSTON – Scofflaws who owe the county or the City of Onalaska unpaid fines, fees or taxes can no longer register a vehicle in Polk County as a result of action Tuesday by the commissioners court. During their meeting, commissioners approved the change to put pressure on those who have refused to meet their financial obligations. In discussing the matter, Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet questioned how this would impact those who were behind in their taxes but were making an effort to pay off their delinquent accounts. "As long as they have a payment agreement in place and are living up to it, this would not apply and they could register a vehicle," County Judge Sydney Murphy explained. She noted this measure is directed at those who are delinquent and are making no effort to solve the problem. She noted that Onalaska wanted to join the program and that other Polk County cities would be allowed to participate if they desired. Under the program, the county and participating cities would enter information regarding unpaid accounts into a computer program which would raise a red flag when one of the scofflaws attempted to register a vehicle. The registrations would then be rejected and the scofflaws would be directed to the appropriate agency where they could pay off their fines, fees and/or taxes. Fireworks approved In other business Tuesday, commissioner approved the sale of fireworks in the unincorporated areas for the San Jacinto Day holiday period. Under this order, the sale of fireworks will be allowed from Sunday, April 16, through midnight on San Jacinto Day, Friday, April 21. Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Pitts told commissioner that he had been in contact with local fire departments as well as the Texas Forest Service and none had reasons to restrict the sale of fireworks at this time. IAH agreement extended Following a closed session to discuss matters with their attorney, commissioners approved temporarily extending the current agreement with the IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility near Livingston until June 15. The county has been working to a new agreement that would once again provide revenue to the county from the facility. The privately-operated detention facility primarily handles immigration detainees or other federal prisoners. Before it can go into effect, the new agreement will have to be approved by the Texas Attorney General's office as well as a Minnesota court. The county's attorney said both those reviews should be completed by June 1. Electric switches Commissioners also approved a $13,072.65 contribution to Sam Houston Electric Cooperative to cover the cost of installing special switches on power transmission lines located at the site of a bridge construction project on Forrest Hills Loop at Caney Creek. Pct. 2 Commissioner Ronnie Vincent said that when the Texas Department of Transportation's engineers designed the project, they failed to take into account the proximity of the utility poles supporting the power lines, which are within 10 feet of the bridge pylons located on the lake side of the bridge. The nearness of those poles to the construction site create a hazard. The most economical means of solving the problem would be to install switches on the poles that could turn off the power during the construction and turn it back on when the work was completed. Cost of installing the switches is $13,072.65. While TxDOT is handling the construction of the offsystem bridge, Vincent said they did not have budgeted funds to cover this cost so it was up to the county to come up with the money. Other business During the meeting, commissioners also: • Approved a request for Motivation Education and Training, Inc, to use office space in the Polk County Annex building formerly occupied by Experience Works. The MET program assists those 55 and older as well as low income people with training for employment. • Received the annual activity reports from the Human Resources and Permit Inspection departments.


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