Polk County Publishing Company, P.O. Box 1267, Livingston, TX. 77351 - (936) 327-4357

Corrigan Times - Local News

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County pays off its 2017 capital debt


By Greg Peak

LIVINGSTON – Polk County will not be issuing any new debt this year after county commissioners agreed Tuesday to use a large portion of its onetime payment from the IAH Adult Detention Facility to pay for capital items purchased throughout the budget year. Normally, when the commissioners make capital purchases outside the regular budget, they add it to a continuing debt resolution and near the end of the year "borrow" the money through tax notes to pay for the items. This year, thanks to a onetime "catch-up" payment of $947,247 received earlier in the month from the IAH Adult Detention Facility, those tax notes will not be issued this year. The county and the detention facility located near Livingston reached an agreement in May to reinstate monthly payments to the county based on the number of inmates being held. Those payments were halted over three years ago while the detention facility restructured its finances and the "catch-up" payment was designed to compensate the county for some of the money it lost during that period. Going forward the private detention facility, which primarily houses immigration detainees and other federal prisoners, will make monthly payments to the county based on the number of inmates it is housing. Accepting a recommendation from County Judge Sydney Murphy, the commissioners adopted a plan to use the $947,247, including allocating $686,850 to cover the debt in the current reimbursement resolution. Also approved was using $30,000 to upgrade video conferencing in the justice of the peace courts, county court at law, district courts and jail; $40,000 to $50,000 to conduct a new compensation and benefits study to examine salaries paid to county employees; $84,000 for the county road and bridge department to purchase surplus road materials from the Texas Department of Transportation; and an additional $125,000 as a catch-up payment for the Retiree Benefit Trust. Murphy noted that would leave between $3,000 and $13,000 -- depending on the cost of the benefits study -- which would be added into the county's general fund. Speed limit In other business during the meeting, the commissioners approved a resolution setting a 20 mile per hour speed limit on all segments of Yaupon Cove Drive in Precinct 2's Yaupon Cove subdivision. Prior to the meeting, the court held a public hearing on the speed limit in which Gene Evans, a resident of the subdivision, said the change was needed to safeguard the lives of the children and grandchildren in the subdivision. Evans explained the subdivision has long had 20 mph speed limit signs posted in an effort to slow down the traffic in the subdivision but because the county had not "officially" lowered the speed from the normal 35 mph on county roads, every time a speeding ticket was issued it was dismissed in the JP court. "People know that so it's hard to get them to slow down," Evans said, adding 150 residents of the subdivision had signed a petition to request the lower speed limit. Later, when the issue came up during the regular meeting, Pct. 2 Commissioner Ronnie Vincent said he felt the change was needed. He noted that his crews were in the subdivision recently performing road repairs and said it appeared as if a Walmart was located in the rear of Yaupon Cove based to the amount of traffic and the number of vehicles "flying" back and forth. Under the resolution, the lower speed limit on the road becomes effective as soon as the appropriate speed limit signs are put into place. Other business During the meeting, commissioners also: • Received the annual report from Veterans Service Office Melissa Gates indicating that with 3,853 veterans now residing in the county, during 2016 she had 2,734 office visits or telephone calls seeking assistance. She also reported compensation and pension payments made to county veterans during 2016 totaled almost $26.8 million, which was up by about $3.7 from 2015. • Received the annual pre-trial services report indicating there are currently 151 active cases. Murphy also told commissioners that County Court at Law Judge Tom Brown has reported that since the program was put in place, the number of defendants who have missed their court dates has declined significantly. • Acknowledge the receipt of the Texas Historical Commission Distinguished Service Award presented to the Polk County Historical Commission. The presentation of the award will be scheduled for a later date. • Approved a cost of living increase in payments made through the county's retirement system, which will be tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). While the overall increase in payments would represent a 10 percent growth, it was noted that by tying it to the CPI, those who have been retired longer will see more of an increase than the more recent retirees. • Approved an employee health insurance plan that will increase costs to the county by 8.76 percent. • Agreed to change the date of their second regular meeting in September due to conflict with the date of the 95th Annual County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas annual conference. Instead of meeting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 26, they will convene at 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 25.


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