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ARPA funds used for vehicle purchase

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Polk County LogoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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The purchase of a vehicle for Precinct 2 Road & Bridge utilizing the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds was approved by the Polk County Commissioners Court during its regular meeting Tuesday.

“On Dec. 13, 2022 the Commissioners Court set aside ARPA funds for each road and bridge precinct to be utilized at their discretion. The funds must be used for the provision of governmental services and they may not be used to pay down debt, to replenish reserves or to support pensions,” County Judge Sydney Murphy said, adding, “They must be approved by Commissioners Court because they are ARPA funds.”

The balance of ARPA funds for each road and bridge precinct are as follows: $132,000 for Precinct 1; $74,131.35 minus $49,645 for the vehicle resulting in $24,486.35 for Precinct 2; $162,000 for Precinct 3; and $34,297.93 for Precinct 4.

Murphy reminded commissioners that the funds must be allocated by December 2024 and spent by December 2025. “I would strongly recommend that you expend the ARPA funds because there is some jibber jabber at the federal level of clawing back some of the undesignated funds.”

The Court approved the revised fiscal year 2023 safety award program standards which reflects an increase in the amount of award from $12.50 to $15; reviewed the fiscal year 2024 safety award program standards which are the same; and reviewed the fiscal year 2024 safety committee member list which includes: Courtney Comstock, Mark Dubose, Stephanie Dale, Jay Burks, Fern Caddenhead, David Sottosanti, Lawrence Dawson and Sheri Atchley.

An order prohibiting the sale of fireworks during the Diwali period of Nov. 5 through midnight Nov. 14 was approved. Diwali is the Hindu celebration of lights. The decision was made following comments from Murphy that Veterans Day falls within this time period and there are some veterans who are traumatized by the sound of fireworks, plus there is a small, if any, local population that celebrates Diwali and no one has requested to sale fireworks during this time.

Although the county had previously gone out for bids for the replacement of the driveway and the creation of a new handicap parking spot and ramp at the Polk County Memorial Museum located at 514 W. Mill, only one bid was received and it was deemed too high and thus rejected. The long-term goals of the Polk County Historical Commission have always been to remodel the facility which was previously a house so the commission has decided to hold off on the driveway, handicap parking and ramp and instead select an engineer and go through a site plan, even if it has to be done in multiple phases. The Court approved the commission’s request to go out for bids to remodel the museum.

An amendment to the Polk County on-site sewage facility order was approved by the Court.

As the second December court meeting is slated for Dec. 26 and the 2023 county holiday schedule includes Dec.25-26 for Christmas, the Court approved rescheduling the regular commissioners court session set for Dec. 26 to Dec. 22.

An offer to purchase tax foreclosure property, specifically, undivided interest in 2.8125 acres out of a 60-acre tract, S.R. Mallette Survey, Abstract 861, Cause No. T14-422, located in Precinct 4, was approved.

The Court reviewed and approved personnel action form requests submitted by department heads since the last meeting and also reviewed two authorized emergency hirings, one in the auditor’s office and one in human resources. Fiscal year 2023 and fiscal year 2024 budget revisions and amendments, as presented by the county auditor’s office, were also approved.

During informational reports, the Court was apprised of a landfill gate rate increase that will go into effect Dec. 1. The increase will go from $49.50 plus the county’s host fee per ton to $52.59 per ton.

Jennifer Moffett, area manager of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, the county’s delinquent tax collection firm, presented the delinquent tax collection report for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2022 and ended Sept. 30, 2023. She reported that they mailed 23,572 warning notice letters, with the goal being for every taxpayer on the delinquent roll with a current address to receive correspondence from them several times a year. She said they filed 227 real property and personal property lawsuits to collect delinquent taxes on 309 accounts, representing $339,555 in delinquent taxes due Polk County. Additionally, she said they dismissed a total of 161 lawsuits that involved $1,097,527 in taxes, penalty and interest. They took judgments in 211 lawsuits involving $698,665 in delinquent taxes and there were 49 release of judgments totaling $327,664. She said 314 tracts of real property were taken to a tax sale during this reporting period, resulting in 43 collection payments totaling $159,509, nine pulled, 12 struck off and 250 sold totaling $2,064,52.

“These are great numbers. I’m overjoyed with the job they’re doing,” Interim County Tax Assessor-Collector Steven Hullihen said.

In old business, the Court approved the minutes of the Sept. 21 and Sept. 26 meetings.

Items on the consent agenda included:

Approval of the minutes of the Oct. 6 and Oct. 10 meetings;

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;

Receipt and recording of personnel action forms submitted by elected officials since the last meeting;

Approval to file claim with the state comptroller, pursuant to Government Code Sec. 61.0015(B) for reimbursement of a portion of the juror fees paid by Polk County during the period of July 1, 2023 through Sept. 30, 2023;

Approval of a renewal agreement with Texas Department of Public Safety for release of driver records for county employment;

Approval of a leaseholder request to change name to London Cattle Company as surface leaseholders of Polk County school land currently in surface lease to Lela and Greg London;

Approval of a lease agreement between Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Eastlease LLC for washer/dryer equipment at the jail;

Approval of a CDL agreement and conditions of employment, as requested by Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Dubose, to be paid out of Precinct 2 Road & Bridge travel/training expenses;

Approval of a CDL agreement and conditions of employment, as requested by Precinct 3 Commissioner Milt Purvis, to be paid out of Precinct 3 Road & Bridge travel/training expenses;

Approval of interlocal agreements between Polk County and the Democratic Party for the county’s provision of election equipment and services for the March 5, 2024 primary election and (possible) runoff election, as recommended by the county clerk;

Receipt and recording of continuing education certifications/transcripts of elected officials, as submitted;

Receipt of the county treasurer’s annual investment report for October 2022 through September 2023;

Approval of an application to apply for the USDA Wildfire Defense Grant; and

Approval of a request from Goodwin Lasiter Strong to advertise a request for bids on the fiscal year 2021 TDA-CDBG Water Project, Texas Department of Agriculture Contract No. CDV21-0368.

Sheriff Byron Lyons opened the meeting with prayer.


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