|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
County okays POA security contract
Trinity Standard -
GROVETON – After discussing the matter for several weeks, Trinity County Commissioners gave their stamp of approval Monday to a contract to provide security services to the Westwood Shores Property Owners Association (POA). A bone of contention developed over the contract because it was between Pct. 1 Constable Woody Wallace and the POA. The major problem, according to County Attorney Joe Bell, is that Westwood Shores is in Precinct 2. Bell warned commissioners during Monday’s meeting that under state law, Wallace could contract with subdivisions located only in Precinct 1 while Wallace has countered that because he is a “Trinity County” peace officer, he is authorized to contract with any subdivision in the county. As part of their approval of the contract this week, commissioners asked that Bell seek a formal opinion on the “geography question” from the Texas Attorney General’s office. “If the attorney general says it’s not legal to do this, then we can cancel the contract,” Pct. 2 Commissioners Rich Chamberlin said in recommending the contract be approved. In July, POA Board President Carlyn Bluis came before the commissioners in support of the contract. She noted that the association would pay up to $1,000 a month in order to have Wallace’s deputies patrol and answer calls within Westwood Shores. It was noted at that time that one of Wallace’s deputies, Mark Cole, currently resides in Westwood Shores and, along with Wallace and other Precinct 1 deputies, has been responding to calls there already. “We are already doing this on an informal basis and now they (the POA) is willing to pay us. I think it would be crazy to turn them down,” Wallace told commissioners in July. He also noted that contract or no contract, anytime someone calls him for help, he will respond. Under the contract approved Monday, the POA would pay the county $20 per hour for the deputies’ time. The county would then make the standard payroll deductions before paying the deputy constables. A similar agreement already is in place between Wallace’s department and the Harbor Point subdivision, which is in Precinct 1. While all four precinct constables draw salaries, none of their deputies are paid by Trinity County, although they currently do collect fees for serving civil court papers. Courthouse update While some unpacking is left to be completed, the Trinity County Courthouse was officially reoccupied last week by all departments that are scheduled to move. The county tax assessor-collector will remain in the annex building and the county clerk’s office, which has been housed in the old ETMC Clinic Building, is being moved into the annex. Smaller offices such as the veteran’s service office and the emergency operations center director also will use space in the annex. During Monday’s meeting, architect Michael Gaertner of Galveston presented an update and a change order on the renovation project. Gaertner said the project is winding down and workers are making minor adjustments – primarily those found by county employees as they reoccupy the offices after as two-year long vacancy. Because the contractor has a one-year warranty to repair any defects , the architectsaid he will be working with county maintenance staff to make sure a list is kept of any problems that might arise. The architect added he would be back in June 2012 to do a thorough walkthrough of the courthouse to make sure that any warranty items are addressed. In his report, Gaertner said he had a change order to present which would increase the final cost of the project by $10,538 – making the total cost of the renovation rise to just under $5.3 million. The bulk of the money for the project came from a $5 million Texas Historical Commission grant, which paid for 80 percent of the work. The rest was funded by $1.6 million in local funds. “Based on my experience with other projects like this, I expect to have one more change order to present before the project is completed,” he told commissioners. “I have no idea what it will involve, its just that something always comes up at the last minute.” Changes approved by commissioners involved replacing a hot water heating element, purchasing 14 additional window blinds to be used on the office doors, installing addition office door deadbolt locks, installing a phone equipment cabinet and increasing the amount budgeted for rugs. While no carpet was planned for the courthouse, a number of large throw rugs are being obtained for use in the various offices. Other business During their meeting, commissioners also: • Learned during a budget workshop that the county’s effective tax rate for the coming year would drop to 62.68 cents per $100 in assessed value and that the maximum rate allowed without being subject to a taxpayer rollback election would be 69.47 cents. Although commissioners are not scheduled to take a record vote on next year’s tax rate until a special meeting at 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 29, they indicated they would probably keep the current rate of 65 cents per $100. • Appointed Cathy Page as the county’s representative to the Burke Center board of directors. The post has been held for the past 10 years by Pct. 1 Commissioners Grover “Tiger” Worsham, but he indicated that he felt it time for someone else to take the job. Because Cathy Page is his wife, County Judge Doug Page abstained from the vote. • Approved the relocation of Voting Box 8 from the Centralia Church of Christ to the Nogalus Prairie Calvary Baptist Church. • Adopted the sheriff’s and constable’s fee schedule without changes.