The Harris County Commissioners Court authorized the extension of the county’s declaration of a public health emergency by County Judge Lina Hidalgo from an April 3 expiration to an April 29 …
The Harris County Commissioners Court authorized the extension of the county’s declaration of a public health emergency by County Judge Lina Hidalgo from an April 3 expiration to an April 29 expiration date during their Tuesday meeting. The court also approved measures to expedite the purchasing of supplies to address the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected Harris County with almost 120 cases of the illness as of 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
Radack and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle voted against the measure, noting that they felt the county should mimic Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s disaster declaration which is currently set to expire April 3.
The commissioners also approved that county employees move forward with expedited payment options and the development of related processes and procedures so the county’s purchasing staff can make payments for purchases in advance. Under ordinary circumstances, state purchasing regulations require that government bodies pay for items after they have been received, in most instances.
“As everyone knows, the N95s are the largest items that we cannot find or locate. We have found some but we haven’t been able to negotiate with all these vendors because they want their money up front,” said County Purchasing Agent DeWight Dopslauf.
First Assistant County attorney Robert Soard explained that the county has had a $15 million fund set aside to quickly purchase real estate that could be repurposed under the commissioners court’s authority to expedite purchasing under the county’s declaration of emergency. He added that the commissioners could include in their decision that county offices responsible for oversight of purchasing and expenditures could define the related processes.
After a motion to approve the expedited procurement processing by Commissioner Adrian Garcia of Harris County Precinct 4 which was seconded by Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack – who represents the Katy area portion of Harris County – the court unanimously approved the expedited measures.