Waller County Commissioners met for their last regular court meeting of 2020 and approved several end-of-year procedural measures and approved one major equipment purchase. The meeting was the last for Commissioner Jeron Barnett for Precinct Three whose tenure ends at the end of the year.
During the meeting, commissioners court:
- Approved expenditures of about $191,000 for construction expenses associated with the new justice center.
- Approved an abatement agreement with the Houston Executive Airport to aid in expansion. County officials said the agreement will potentially allow more planes to be housed at the facility which in turn are taxable and add to the county’s tax revenues over time.
- Approved the purchase of a CrackPro 260-DA Crack Sealer from SealMaster Houston through a group buying platform for $68,625.
- Approved a maintenance agreement for upkeep of the power supplies that provide uninterrupted backup power to the county’s 9-1-1 facility at the new justice center. County Judge Trey Duhon said the contract was a good investment because it ensures the new facility will be well maintained after the county had spent money building it.
- Reviewed and approved the county’s investment policy.
- Discussed and approved the county’s 2021 salary order which establishes how much county employees are paid. They also discussed having a consultant come in to conduct a salary survey in the near future, something that has not been done for a decade or more according to county staff.
- Approved an agreement with Dr. Aaron Buzzard to act as a medical director over officers with the Waller County Sheriffs Office who have EMT/EMS certifications. This is a standard practice by counties in Texas and helps protect the county from a liability standpoint, staff said.
- Renewed an agreement with Dr. Glenn Berry for a one-year term to provide medical services to inmates at the Waller County Jail.
- Renewed an agreement to ensure the county utilizes the Statewide Automated Victim Notification Service, also known as SAVNS. The service is a state-run public service that notifies victims of crimes of the incarceration status of the perpetrator of the crime against them according to the SAVNS website.
- Approved an engagement letter to Rutledge, Crain and Company, PC. The firm provides auditing services to the county, especially where it is related to grants. County Auditor Alan Younts said the auditing service will be especially important this year given the county’s utilization of CARES Act and other grants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Adopted a fund balance policy that increased the county’s “rainy day fund” from 4 months to 4.5 months by adding $1 million into the capital improvement fund and allocating more money for rainy day expenses. Duhon said the idea is to continue to be proactive and fiscally conservative in order to prepare for upcoming projects while remaining prepared for unexpected expenses.
- Approved an agreement with Grimes County for cost sharing of expenses associated with the 506th District Court which both counties utilize.
- Reappointed Duhon to the Gulf Coast Rail District which he has served on for the last few years. Duhon said the county’s representation is important on the board of directors for that district, especially considering the controversial high speed rail project that is currently in development.
- Discussed COVID-19. Duhon encouraged county residents to be cautious as the disease has been spreading rapidly especially as a result of gatherings and to practice social distancing, washing hands and wearing face coverings to curb the spread of the virus that causes the disease.
- Postponed approving payment of funds to Katy ISD while verification was obtained to ensure the district had not received reimbursement from the state for COVID-19-related expenses. The move appeared to be procedural to ensure the county was proactive in verifying expenses claimed by the district under an agreement between the two municipalities. Court had recently approved agreements with KISD ($51,000), Waller ISD (256,000), Hempstead ISD ($113,000) and Royal ISD ($177,000) to help them recoup costs for adjustments to instruction and operation of schools during the pandemic.
No meeting of the court is scheduled for Dec. 30 in observance of the holiday season. However, Duhon did indicate that a swearing in for newly-elected county officials will take place Jan. 1 at 11 a.m. at the new district courthouse. Duhon said the event will be socially-distanced and follow all COVID-19 protocols currently in place.