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By Emily Banks Wooten
A resolution that there be no further unfunded state government mandates was approved by the Polk County Commissioners Court during its regular meeting Tuesday.
County Judge Sydney Murphy said the resolution is similar to one the North and East Texas Judges’ and Commissioners’ Association approved at its annual conference.
“It addresses the county governments’ struggles to finance essential services under a 3.5 revenue cap while also funding the state’s statutory obligations that have been passed down to local governments. All of you are aware that constantly we receive legislative mandates and at this time the legislative mandates are eating up our taxpayer dollars and leaving very little revenue because we must follow those first and then leaving very little for the commissioners to build roads, for us to provide adequate services to our own taxpayers,” Murphy said.
Regarding the drought status, Murphy remarked that although a little rain was received Tuesday morning, neither the Texas Forest Service, the emergency management coordinator or the fire marshal are “comfortable,” so the Court approved extending the burn ban in the unincorporated areas of the county for an additional 30 days.
The Court approved action regarding submission of the General Land Office Community Development Block Grant Regional Mitigation Program applications, including a resolution to submit applications; execution of interlocal agreements with eligible water districts; and a resolution for financial management and procurement policies.
A request from The Oasis of Texas Subdivision, Section 1, in Precinct 3, for a variance to the Polk County subdivision regulations requirement to obtain all necessary permits for proposed water and sewage facilities prior to plat approval was denied.
The Court approved, upon conditions met, Ridge Lake Estates Subdivision in Precinct 4. The re-bid of #2023.08 for pest control services resulted in the receipt of two bids with the Court accepting the bid from Broken Arrow for $7,004.
In personnel matters, the Court reviewed personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and reviewed two authorized emergency hirings, one in maintenance and on in the jail.
Fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2023 budget revisions, as presented by the county auditor’s office, were approved.
Presenting the delinquent tax office annual report, Jennifer Moffett reported that her office mailed 22,693 warning notice letters to delinquent taxpayers. She said the goal is for everyone on the delinquent tax list with a current address to receive correspondence several times before a suit is filed.
“We have filed 254 real property and personal property lawsuits to collect delinquent property taxes on 445 accounts. Our dismissals resulted in a total of 161 lawsuits involving over $780,000 in taxes, penalties and interest being dismissed. We’ve taken 361 tracts of property to the tax sales for $2.1 million,” Moffett said.
During the portion of the meeting reserved for public comment, Pastor Wayne Bickley of Soda Baptist Church said he wanted to go on record recognizing Pastor Jim Mayland and his contributions to the community since he moved here from Iowa in 2015. Bickley said Mayland is leaving in November to move to Wisconsin. “When he got here, he threw a rock in the lake and the ripples from Jim Mayland have moved throughout our community. He is going to be sorely missed,” Bickley said, citing a lengthy list of Mayland’s local involvement.
Items on the consent agenda included:
Approval of the minutes of the Oct. 11 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 to file a 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 through Sept. 30, 2022;
Receipt of the constable warrant service program quarterly report for the period ending Sept. 30, 2022;
Approval of the local assistance and tribal consistency fund agreement and accept funds in the amount of $121,933.16;
Approval of a renewal agreement with Texas Department of Public Safety for release of driver records for county employment;
Approval of a request from Sheriff Byron Lyons for asset forfeiture expenditure of seized property not to exceed $1,200 for K-9 school training;
Approval of a memorandum of understanding between Polk County and Burke for storage of a vehicle (truck and trailer) and the Precinct 3 Leggett facility;
Approval of an update to the master street address guide;
Approval of the use of $984 from maintenance capital outlay (budgeted funds) for the cleaning of air ducts at the Polk County Probation Center Office Building 2;
Approval of an updated agreement with Stericycle for disposal of medical waste at the Polk County Jail;
Approval of fiscal year 2023 Contract 23-1000824-1 (Oct. 1, 2022 through Sept. 30, 2023) between Polk County Aging Department and Deep East Texas Council of Governments for Older American Act Program (congregate and home-delivered meals);
Approval of the refinance of 2019 Caterpillar motor grader for Precinct 1 Road and Bridge;
Receipt of county treasurer’s fourth quarter investment report; and
Receipt of county treasurer’s annual investment report.
Bishop Nickson opened the meeting with prayer.