Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - August 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company

Commissioners Hold First of Public Hearings
Houston County Courier - August 2008
By Sharron Randall
Staff Writer

The Houston County Commissioners Court met on Tuesday, Aug. 26 at 10 a.m. for the first required public hearing on the 2008 tax rate.  Houston County Judge Lonnie Hunt announced that the second and final public hearing on the 2008 tax rate would be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 2, one week away.
At 10:07, the regular meeting of commissioners court was called to order.  The first order of business was to unanimously approve the minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, Aug. 12.
After budget amendments and payment of bills and expenses were approved 5-0, David Lamb introduced Jeff Berry, Texas Forest Service who presented the Community Wildfire Protection Plan to the commissioners.
A color version of the plan can be seen on the Web said Berry after Lamb recommended approval.  Commissioners voted 5-0 to adopt the Community Wildfire Protection Program with the county judge's authorization at the proper time.
Commissioners also approved, after much discussion, early voting at Grapeland at First United Methodist Church on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Kennard at Kennard School on Thursday, Oct. 23, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Lovelady at Lovelady Community Center on Friday, Oct. 24, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Early voting will also be held in the courthouse basement, Oct. 20-31, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.  Commissioners approved 5-0.
New computers for the district clerk and the county clerk were approved 5-0, as was acceptance of $15,000 from DETCOG toward the purchase of a new voice recorder system in the amount of $29,504.
The Texas travel mileage reimbursement rate of 58.5 cents per mile was accepted, but the court denied authorization of a salary supplement for the district attorney's employees of $500 per month beginning Oct. 1 to Dec. 11 from the DA Forfeiture Fund.  According to County Auditor Melissa Mosley, there was not enough "old" money to fund the salary increases. 
Two representatives made presentations and presented bids on a new roof for the courthouse.  Judge Hunt said, "We're comparing apples to oranges here." 
He said he had sent Sharon Fleming, Texas Historical Commission, a copy of both bids and was waiting for advice about the two entirely different roofs that the roofers would install.  No decision was made on the roof.
The court also ruled 5-0 to extend the deadline for submission of requests for qualifications for jail project to Sept. 8.
A public hearing on the county budget for fiscal year 2008-2009 was then opened.  Some small adjustments had been made, some monies had been moved around, but the finished copy was similar to the original document on file.
Pct. 4 Commissioner Kennon Kellum suggested that instead of a 3 percent raise, all elected employees' cost of living should be raised 4 percent. Judge Hunt called for a vote after stating that raising salaries for elected officials had to be published. 
Pct. 1 Jerry McLeod was opposed, Pct. 2 Kitchen, Pct. 3 Pat Perry, Pct. 4 Kellum and Judge Hunt approved the 4 percent cost of living raise.
Adoption of county budget for fiscal year 2008-2009 will be considered during the regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 9, by the commissioners court.
The commissioners approved the pay scale for county employees that will reflect the 4 percent increase effective by Oct. 1.
A longevity policy for county employees for fiscal year 2009 was approved 5-0.  A $5 amount per month maxing at 240 months or 20 years of continuous service will reward loyal and committed employees.  Judge Hunt suggested a recognition dinner and some sort of award ceremony in early December.




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