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Commissioners Vote To Modify Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. Abatement

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Hopkins County Commissioners Court on Monday voted to modify an Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. abatement by 10 percent, to match a reduction in staffing.

According to Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Economic Development Executive Director Roger Feagley, the abatement to the county was $28,000, with requirements that the company maintain 147 employees. The company, however, now has a 125. The loss can be attributed to attrition, positions not being filled when people quit. However, there are plans for the company to work on building that number back, with five jobs to be added this year.

Four years still remain on the five year agreement.

One city resident, Jay Julian, who says he also owns property in the county, asked the commissioners to revoke the abatement completely, with those tax dollars to be used to benefit citizens. He said granting the modification would set a bad precedent.

The court voted unanimously, with all members present in accord, to modify Ocean Spray Cranberries’ abatement by 10 percent as requested. Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker was not in attendance at Monday’s meeting.

Bank Depository

In other business, the commissioners court approved Auditor Shannah Walker’s recommendation that the county select Alliance Bank as depository of public funds for Hopkins County. City National Bank and Guaranty Bank and Trust also submitted bid. Walker, County Treasurer Danny Davis, Judge Robert Newsom and some court members met with representatives from the banks. Alliance Bank was the only one to turn in all documents.

“They’re offering variable interest rates of the Treasury dual rate plus 0.25 percent. So what they are paying us today would 2.32 percent. It’s a great rate. We’ve always been happy with the rate that they’ve honored. They’ve offered positive pay, which was something that we’ve wanted to implement to service at no cost, and they’ve also $20 million collateral on our funds that are put there,” Walker said.

Grant Topics

Also approved at Monday’s meeting were the following grant matters:

  • an agreement between Hopkins County and GrantWorks for grant management services for the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program;
  • a resolution authorizing the Commissioners Court to Submit an application to Texas Department Of Agriculture for funding through Texas Community Development Block Grant Program, known as TxCDBG, for 2018 disaster funding;
  • and designation of the county judge to act as the county’s executive officer and authorized representative in all matters pertaining to the application to Texas Department of Agriculture for funding through TxCDBG for 2018 Disaster Funding.

Payroll, Utilities Disbursement

The court approved an order for disbursement of salaries and utility expenses in accordance with Senate Bill 354 of the 86th Legislative Session.

Walker explained SB 354 would allow county officials to process payroll and pay utilities without having to bring both before the court each before doing so each time.

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Author: Faith Huffman

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