By Emily Banks Wooten
A resolution in support of an amendment of criminal courts’ jurisdiction was approved by the Polk County Commissioners Court during its regular meeting Tuesday.
“Judge Brown, Judge Kitchens and Judge Wells have come together and expressed their desires to streamline the number of court cases by appealing to our legislators to amend legislation so that their statutory job responsibilities match and to allow Judge Brown to handle non-trial criminal cases,” County Judge Sydney Murphy said. “This would allow the consolidation of some cases under one judge. It would resolve some of the backlog and it would simplify the process. We’ve spoken with our legislators and they are more than happy to sponsor it but they need a resolution from the Court.
In other activity affecting the local courts, Commissioners approved the purchase and installation of audio/video recording systems in the Polk County Judicial Center courtrooms and the commissioners courtroom. The recording systems will cost $155,377 and will be funded with American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The Court canvassed the results of the Nov. 8 general election. According to County Clerk Schelana Hock, 16,854 people voted, which was a better turnout than the last governor election in 2018.
Action to transition credit card processing in the county clerk’s office from EZ-Net to Certified Payments by Deluxe was approved. This change will allow people to make payments online.
Based on the recommendation of Emergency Management Coordinator Courtney Comstock, the Court approved an agreement with True North for disaster debris monitoring and consulting.
A request for a capital purchase to be paid from the fund balance and included on the fiscal year 2022 reimbursement resolution for the year-end issuance of legally authorized debt was approved, specifically, a request from the Precinct 4 justice of the peace office to purchase an auto date and time stamper, not to exceed $1,025. The purchase was approved although it did come in at $65 more than the original amount.
In personnel matters, the Court reviewed and approved personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and reviewed an authorized emergency hiring at the jail. Fiscal year 2023 budget revisions, as presented by the county auditor’s office, were also approved.
The Court signed a proclamation recognizing National Adoption Month and presented it to Ashley Goodwin, Marlee Duong and Angel Gillispie, who are with the Department of Family and Protective Services.
Grants and Contracts Coordinator Jessica Hutchins presented her annual report to the Court. There are presently 21 active grants that are funding seven personnel positions and 32 projects within the county, as well as other departmental services and equipment. Additionally, the county currently has 288 active contracts.
Items on the consent agenda included:
•Approval of the minutes of the Nov. 1 emergency session and the Nov. 8 regular meeting;
•Approval of the schedules of bills;
•Approval of an order designating surplus property;
•Receipt of the county auditor’s monthly report, pursuant to Local Government Code Sec. 114.025;
•Approval of an update to the master street address guide;
•Ratification of the renewal of an agreement dated July 1, 2022 between Polk County and Motivation Education & Training Inc.;
•Ratification of the General Land Office Amendment No. 3 Contract 20-065-018-C064 to extend the contract;
•Approval of an interlocal agreement renewing services with Harris County for postmortem examinations;
•Approval of a sheriff’s request to opt out of the Texas 1033 Program effective Dec. 31, 2022; and
•Approval of the use of $7,724 from maintenance capital outlay buildings (budgeted funds) for the air conditioning/heater replacement at the Polk County Gun Range.
•Lindell Mitchell, minister of the Livingston Church of Christ, opened the meeting with