Commissioners Court Approves Interlocal And Special Road Use Agreements, Budget Amendment To Benefit VFDs
Hopkins County Commissioners Court Monday approved an interlocal agreement for insurance to help pay for a public defender insurance program to help with costs should the county have a capital murder case that advances to a death penalty, as well as one special road use and one docket application docket application agreement, and a budget amendment to benefit the county’s volunteer fire departments.
County Clerk Tracy Smith asked the Commissioners Court to approve another agreement with Integrated Data Services, this time to allow all county and district civil, criminal or probate dockets to be posted on the county website, and to do so easier. The agreement too will make searching for specific cases easier for the general public as well as county and district staff.
Smith said she has talked with District Clerk Cheryl Fulcher, who also is interested in using the service and willing to split the cost. The county clerk said as she understands it, both can use it, adding the district court docket to it without any added cost.
Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook noted there is enough money in the records management fund to cover the $2,000 cost for the IDS docket application, then a $500 maintenance fee.
This is the second agreement Smith’s office has entered into with IDS this week. Smith was granted approval at the July 12 Commissioner Court meeting to enter into an agreement with IDS for software services, with Bill Wilder as the vendor, so that certain records such as monthly reports, Commissioners Court records and election results can be post onto the county website. Prior to that, the Commissioners Court minutes were recorded on Laserfiche, which the clerk noted is not very user-friendly.
The request for an additional IDS agreement for docket application received full approval of the Commissioners Court on Monday, July 26, 2021.
Interlocal Agreement With Lubbock County
Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom recommended that Hopkins County again enter into an interlocal agreement with Lubbock County in the Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases Program, the largest collaborative effort between Counties and a state-funded program in the formative years in the United States.
“The office represents only indigent defendants charged with a capital case where the death penalty is sought at the trial level. With the Administrative office and a trial office in Lubbock, there are satellite offices in Angleton, Austin, San Angelo, San Antonio, and Terrell. All offices are staffed with a combination of all positions, each of which is able to fulfill the constitutional requirements of a core team,” according to the program website. “Collaborative efforts between counties and state ensures that competent and effective counsel are appointed to represent defendants while also providing counties with budget predictability and stability.”
“This is the capital murder insurance program that we’ve been taking out for several years. And we have actually dipped into it a little bit at one time, but thankfully not lately,” Newsom said. “We need to go ahead and stay in the program.”
The cost is $13,199 for county to participate in the insurance program this year,
“What happens is, if we a capital murder and it goes to the death penalty, this insurance program would pay for the defense council and, I believe, a special investigator,” Newsom said. “That would round up into hundreds of thousands of dollars if we have that occur.”
Hopkins County is in Region 10, which also includes Camp, Cass, Franklin, Freestone, Hunt, Leon, Limestone, Marion, Morris, Rains, Red River, Sabine and Van Zandt counties.
Hopkins County Commissioners Court unanimously agreed to enter into the interlocal agreement to participate in the insurance program, should Hopkins County have a death penalty case in the future.
The Commissioners Court this week agreed for the $10,320.29 receive this year be combined with the $19,824.95 the commissioners received in 2020 from sale of scrap metal to be moved from the precinct budgets into a fund to benefit the volunteer fire departments. Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook reported if divided evenly among VFDs, that’d be $2,740.48 per department.
Judge Newsom noted that additional discussion was still needed to determine how that would be awarded to the VFDs. Newsom said one idea the court had discussed was for the funds to go toward the tire program. He said the court would discuss the matter more following Monday mornings regular Commissioners Court meeting, and anticipated consulting with some VFD officials to gauge their take on it. The court approved the budget amendment moving the $30,145.24 from precinct budgets to a VFD fund as soon as a decision is made regarding how the departments would benefit from the funding.
“This is another big step. I want to thank the Commissioners Court. They didn’t have to do that with the scrap metal that accumulated – I don’t know how you accumulated it. It comes in, they sell it and give it – one way or other – to the volunteer fire departments,” Newsom said.
Special Road Use Agreements
Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price reported that a company is doing some logging on County Road 4760. A temporary permit was issued to the business last week, and the business posted a $20,000 bond which would be used for repairs if the road sustains damage during the approximately 90 days listed on the permit.
Price asked the court to approve a special road use agreement to allow the company to use of CR 4760. Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker seconded the motion, which received full approval of the Commissioners Court.
Pine Forest Hybrid, LLC, (Pine Forest Solar) also asked permission to use certain roads during work on the solar project, which is located within roads in both Precinct 2 and Precinct 3; the project is going by a different name, according to Commissioner Greg Anglin. The request as presented to Commissioner Bartley failed to note the road numbers. He said in order to consider the request, the county needs to know what roads the company is talking about.
Thus, Anglin made a motion, seconded by Bartley to table the request from Pine Forest Hybrid, LLC, until additional information is presented to the Commissioners Court. The rest of the court agreed, and the request was tabled pending receipt of additional information.