Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - Thursday, March 13, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company

Burn Ban Lifted, spending caps set
Houston County Courier - March 2008
By Daphne Hereford
Managing Editor

Houston County Commissioners Court voted to lift the burn ban during the regular meeting held on Tuesday, March 11.
Although the burn ban is no longer in effect, county officials still urge citizens to use extreme caution when burning.
On advise from outside legal counsel and County Attorney Donna Gordon Kaspar, commissioners approved setting spending limits for four elected officials offices based on the results of the Primary Election held on Tuesday, March 4. 
Ms. Kaspar told commissioners that the Texas Local Government Code, Section 130.908 mandates the county to set spending limits for elected officials who were not re-nominated for their offices in the recent primary election. 
The spending cap will affect the offices of county attorney, district attorney, Precinct 1 commissioner and Precinct 1 constable. 
Commissioners set a maximum amount that can be spent by those officials during each semi-monthly period. 
The current office holders must obtain approval from commissioners court to exceed those limits.
The semi-monthly limits were set as follows: $20,000 for road and bridge Precinct 1;  $513.33 for the district attorney;  $315.33 for the county attorney; and $301.13 for the Precinct 1 constable. 
According to Houston County Judge Lonnie Hunt, the limits apply to operational expenses and do not include payroll-related expenses.
Commissioners voted to apply for federal funding for replacement of four bridges on county roads. 
County Judge Hunt explained that counties typically pay 10 percent of the cost under the federal off-system bridge replacement program. 
However, because Houston County has been designated as “Economically Disadvantaged” for 2008, the local rate would be reduced to 5.5 percent.
The commissioners also approved application for a waiver to allow the 5.5 percent local match to be provided in services instead of cash.  The services could include drainage work or improvement of other bridges.
The four bridges Houston County will apply for have all been identified as structurally deficient by the Texas Department of Transportation and include the Rich Creek bridge on CR 1750, the Neches River Relief Bridge on CR 1155, the Helton Creek bridge on CR 4740, and the Hurricane Bayou bridge on CR 2065.
In other business commissioners approved a request from Precinct 2 Constable Kenneth “Red” Smith to appoint Larry Bennett of Crockett as a Reserve Deputy Constable; approved expenditure of $345 from the Justice Court Security Fund to replace outside lighting at the Justice of the Peace Building; adopted a resolution supporting a grant application for the Houston and Trinity Counties Childrens Advocacy Center, also known as Kalin’s Center; awarded a bid for purchase of gasoline and diesel to Crockett Farm and Fuel; and awarded a bid for purchase of poly culverts to Thomas Supply, Inc.
commissioners also ejected all bids received for metal culverts and grader blades and authorized advertising for bids for purchase of limestone road base and rock, and contract hauling of road material.



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