|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - February 10, 2008 - February 17, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Auditors give Polk County high marks
Polk County Enterprise - February 2008
LIVINGSTON – Polk County Commissioners Court received positive comments from auditor Robert Belt of Sanderson Knox & Belt during Belt’s presentation of the 2007 fiscal year audit.
Belt opened by telling the court that county auditor Ray Stelly has done a great job with the county’s financial records which made the task much easier than any time in recent memory.
Belt reported that the county has an increase of $981,000 in its fund balance for the year. Belt told the court it was a much-needed improvement. County creditors would be pleased with the report and the county could see its credit rating improve as a result.
Belt also reported a surplus of $220,000 in the road and bridge fund for the 2007 fiscal year.
Full details of the county’s audit are available at the county’s website
The court approved the purchase of three new 2008 trucks from Clifton Chevrolet — one for Pct. 2 at a cost of $24,085 and two for Pct. 4 at a cost of $24,085 and $26,178.
Emergency Managment Coordinator Kenneth Hambrick received approval from the court for a new truck chassis from Jasper Ford Mercury at a cost of $27,697 and a 400-gallon flat bed brush fire truck at a cost of $37,854 — both for use by the Holiday Lakes Estates Volunteer Fire Department.
District Attorney Lee Hon requested and received approval for the purchase of a 2008 Dodge Charger from Bounds Chevrolet at a cost of $24,624 for use by investigators.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet requested ratification by the court of a previous action relating to the county’s improvement of roads in Big Thicket Lake Estates.
“Finding that such improvements are necessary for the health, safety and welfare of residents of the county,” we propose improving the following roads in Big Thicket Lake Estates: L.C. Herschap Lane, Almon Winfrey Drive, Bear Track Trail, Charles Keyes Lane, Big Foot Wallace Trail, Story Drive, Lambrigit Lane, Leonna Lane, Josephine Road, Devereaux Trail, Lake Road, Tonda Trail, Royce Lane, Forgiveness Drive and Garret Road.
The court also approved the assessment of all or part of the costs of the improvement pro rata against the record owners of the real property of the subdivision or a specific portion of the subdivision.
The motion carried, but Commissioner Bob Willis wanted to know how the $551,000 cost would be funded.
Overstreet explained that this is just the first step in a longer process that will next include public hearings on the matter.
For now, the plan is to assess a fee of $180 per lot pro rated for three years for a fee of $60 per year per lot owner, said Overstreet, but the final details would be provided at the public hearings which have not yet been scheduled.
Debbie Harlow addressed the court on behalf of the newly formed Polk County Subdivision Directors Association, a group comprised of leaders from property owners associations in Polk County.
The group is concerned about the county’s plan to tear down the current animal shelter without first building either a new or temporary shelter as part of the new jail expansion project, said Harlow.
Harlow expressed the group’s “deep concern and outcry” that would cause the community to go without an animal shelter for any length of time because “the burden will fall most heavily on subdivisions that are already constantly affected by the dumping of unwanted dogs and cats.”
County Clerk Barbara Middleton announced that early voting would be held at the courthouse and subcourthouses in Onalaska and Corrigan from Feb. 19 to 29 at the Polk County courthouse as well as the annexes in Corrigan and Onalaska.
Middleton said there will be three additional early voting polls open, each on a specific day.
Voters may cast early ballots at Dunbar on Feb. 26, at Goodrich I.S.D. on Feb. 27 and at the Escapees on Feb. 28.
For more information about early voting contact the county clerk’s office at 936-327-6804.
Commissioners approved a resolution endorsing a funding request to the Texas Department of State Health Services which will allow the creation of an emergency psychiatric service for the DETCOG region.
The county pledged a pro-rata share of the annual operating funds of such a center, in the amoung of $18,252, or 25 percent of the first year’s operating expenses.
Several area hosptials have pledged the additional 75 percent needed to allow the grant application to the state to proceed.
Currently, the custody, transport and guarding of psychiatric patients is a huge expense for the county with some deputies waiting as long as 32 hours for Rusk or the state mental hospital
in Austin to provide clearance for the patient.
During her report, Human Resources Supervisor Jeanette Montgomery was asked by Commissioner Tommy Overstreet is there has been a decrease in the amount of overtime and compensation time county employees are acruing.
Montgomery said that most departments are keeping those balances down and the others have plans in place to get them down.
She said her office is keeping an eye on overtime/comp time balances and taking action when they near 150 hours.
The court also heard a presentation from the Texas Department of Agriculture regarding the departments promotion of www.retireintexas.com, a website and marketing campaign designed to attract retirees to the East Texas region.
Texas is second only to Florida in the number of active retirees moving to the state.
With an average age of 55, these baby-boomers have more spending power than previous generations, spending on average $36,000 per year.
They are also not “settling down” but instead are entrepreneurs and volunteers looking for active challenges and opportunities.
The group is looking for a five year commitment from the county to become a part of the program and take part in its marketing efforts.
Commissioner Bob Willis told the court that he feels like the program could be a win-win situtation for Polk County because a senior household has the same economic benefit as adding 1.5 jobs to the community.
The court held a brief public hearing during which no one came forward to speak, to cancel the Auguila Vista subdivision since it is no longer being developed.