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Grant request spurs dispute

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SanJacCountySealBy Tony Farkas
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COLDSPRING — The San Jacinto County Commissioners were at odds with County Judge Fritz Faulkner over whether the county could extend grant funds to a private company.

At its regular meeting on May 18, the court received a request from the Lake Waterwheel Property Owners Association, which operates its own water supply for its members, for a grant of $35,256.01 to repair the aging system.

However, County Judge Fritz Faulkner was unsure if that was possible, given that the POA was not technically a non-profit, since its paperwork has not been filed, and the state Constitution banned such donations in Article 3 Section 52.

Most commissioners were of the opinion that if it were legal, it should be done, but Faulkner said that the District Attorney’s Office recommended it not be granted. However, grant administrator Judy Lankford said it was possible to grant the funds.

Faulkner said that while the grant language doesn’t necessarily ban the county from giving those funds to a private company, it still says that all applicable state laws do apply.

Still, the court sought to approve it pending an attorney general’s opinion, since there would be a new District Attorney in the county very soon; an exasperated Faulkner said his children run to their mother if he says no.

“You all have precincts, but I represent everyone in the county,” he said. “I’m all for helping them if they’re a true non-profit.”

Two commissioners were going to pool what they described and “their” money, since each commissioner was allocated a portion of a $1 million grant for such purposes, but Faulkner reminded them that the money belonged to the taxpayers, not the commissioners.

Commissioner Mark Nettuno made the motion, which was seconded by Donnie Marrs, to approve the funds pending legal reviews.

All commissioners voted to approve, but Faulkner remained opposed to the request.

A similar request from the Emerald Estates POA was approved as well, with the same stipulations that I must require a written opinion.

A request Dodge-Oakhurst Water Supply for $40,000 to upgrade a well was approved.

The funds for all projects will come from the American Recovery Plan Act funds.

•approved the canvass of votes for the May 7 constitutional election;

•approved bond renewals for the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office;

•delayed a replat of the Waterwood subdivision near Bay Hill Point over tax questions, but approved one near Whispering Pines Village;

•approved the annual service contract for an HP plat machine;

•denied a request of an employee to purchase salvage items, and instead will just recycle the items;

•approved the purchase of a tilt bed trailer from Big Tex Trailer World for $13,628.49; 

•tabled the purchase of a septic system for the animal shelter building; and

•approve a quote for the lease of 7 vehicles at $37,000 per vehicle through its lease agreement with Enterprise, with Commissioner Laddie McAnnally voting against the measure.

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