Hopkins County Commissioners Court approved a budget amendment, contract with NetData, SAVNS grant contract, a donation and made a TIFRZ appointment during their regular meeting last week.
Each of the County Commissioners has been allocated an additional $200,000 to help them finish or at least continue road building projects throughout the summer. A budget amendment was necessary to move the funding from the general fund into the road and bridge fund into each precinct’s emergency road building line in the budget.
The increased costs per barrel have increased signicantly over the last year, reducing the amount available to complete road and bridge projects on time as scheduled through the end of fiscal year 2021-2022.
“This is to be used just for building roads, so you could use it for fuel, repairs and maintenance should you have something break down, oil. You can not use it for capital outlay. You cannot go buy equipment with it. You cannot pay off loans or leases. It is just to be used to finish out this year. You cannot transfer it next year’s budget,” County Auditor Shannah Aulsbrook said. “What doesn’t get used of this line, it will go back to the general fund where it came from.”
Aulsbrook said the general fund will still be left with a healthy fund balance, even after transferring the $800,000 into the emergency road building fund.
County Judge Robert Newsom asked how much the commissioners are currently paying for oil to use on county roads.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker said he is currently paying $99, but that’s down a bit. He has had to pay as much as $120 per barrel for oil. Overall, oil is about double what it was one year ago.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley noted the cost of fuel is double what it was a year ago, when county officials drafted then approved the current budget, with 4-8 good weeks of road building weather to go. Each mile takes about 2-4 days to complete, funding providing for materials.
“When you’ve got 210 miles and you can only get 10-15, maybe 20 a year, there’s not enough time to get around and get it all done — not and do everything else we do,” Bartley said.
“The dry and the hot weather has made road building weather. It really helped us as far as that goes. That’s why we needs some extra money,” Barker said.
Hopkins County Sheriff Lewis Tatum reported a Bobcat 175 steer loader, with no AC, has been awarded to the county.
“It’s a different kind of deal. It’s stolen, been stolen a long time. The insurance company awarded it to us. We had a property hearing. It belongs to Hopkins County now,” Tatum said. “It works, runs, is a little rough, but we’re going to give it to the commissioners, if they can use it. If not maybe we can sell it and buy something else, or something — whatever y’all want to do with it. It was awarded to us.”
The Commissioners Court voted to accept the donation on behalf of the county. Until the county officials decide what to do with the steer loader, it will be added to the sheriff’s office inventory and county insurance.
The Commissioners Court also approved a contract with NetData for 2023. The contract had to be agreed upon before the end of the contract period because the tax office pulled out of the contract, opting to utilize different software and the sheriff’s office is switching to NetData ‘s sister company.
The county, by approving the software changes, is now be required to pay a $15,000 withdrawal fee. The county will be pulling all of the county data from it for the offices pulling out of the contract, as stipulated in the contract.
Aulsbrook said the county was not aware of the fee before the other contract was approved. She plans to continue talking with them to see if that can be removed or lowered, but in order to move forward with either project, the 2023 agreement must be approved.
Barker suggested tabling the matter for further discussion, but County tax assessor/Collector Debbie Mitchell said it’s needed now so her office will have the data needed to process tax statements and other tasks. The Tax office has been waiting 3 weeks already.
“She needs to send tax notices out. If we don’t do this, then we can’t get our data over to Spindle Media. That’s the big thing,” Aulsbrook said.
The county auditor said she has talked with NetData about the matter, but pointed out the county did sign a contract with them through January of 2023. The other contracts will remain as normal. The extraction fee will get those two entities out of the contract and the data needed to proceed with business as otherwise arranged.
“If we ever want to go back and get any additional information, will we have to pay for that too?” Barker asked. “I think that needs to be discussed.”
Aulsbrook said, as she understands it, the extraction fee would get everything transferred to Spindle Media.
“What I hear Debbie saying is I’ve got to have the numbers transferred over to Spindle Media so that we can go forward with the tax season, am I right?” Newsom queried.
Mitchell affirmed that to be correct.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price made the motion, which Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Anglin seconded, to approve the 2023 contract with NetData. Th motion passed, with Barker casting the lone dissenting vote
The court also placed on record an amendment to the FY 2022 SAVNS grant Contract. The county pays annually for the state automated notification system, then the state pays the county back through the grant.
Newsom also at the Aug. 8, 2022, regular Commissioners Court meeting, called for a General Election to be held Nov. 8. The county judge noted to his knowledge, everything is as ready to go as possible, with less than 100 days until Nov. 8, the election must be ordered no later than Aug. 22, 2022.
The Commissioners Court too reappointed Judge Robert Newsom to serve as the county’s representative on the Sulphur Springs Tax Increment Financing Reinvestment Zone #1 Board of Directors. He has served on the board for a number of years, and he must be reappointed or another member of the court needed to be appointed.
A county road inventory for miles of county-maintained road mileage for certification funding through Texas Department of Transportation was approved by the Court at the Aug. 8 meeting.
The following requests were approved as part of the consent agenda:
- from Spectrum/Charter to construct and place underground conduit and fiber on County Roads 4720, 4724, 4725, 4734, 4784 and 4792; and
- from Farmers Electric Cooperative Inc. to construct electrical power distribution facilities across County Road 1126, north of County Road 1130 in Precinct 1
Dike resident Michele Barnes addressed Hopkins County Commissioners Court regarding statements made by her and county officials at past meetings, offered clarification to her statements and asked one county official for a public apology for his prior accusation. (She did not receive one).
Barnes too said that 95% of the Dike community does not want solar in their neighborhood, which she and to other Dike residents and property owners have frequently voice to the Commissioners Court.
She noted that while landowners can do what they want on their property, when their actions directly cause damages to neighbors, it become a public issues. Barnes argued solar collection equipment being installed on private property will cause damages, making it a public issue.
“That damage is reducing property market values, increasing property assessment values next to a commercial facility so more taxes are paid into county pockets, increasing fire risks with potential toxic fumes. Can you imagine the spread of a solar fire in the dry conditions we have right now? We’d obliterate Hopkins County,” Barnes contended.
Hopkins County Commissioners Court have 3 meetings scheduled over the next 2 days:
- A special court session beginning at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in the Commissioners Courtroom at Hopkins County Courthouse. During the meeting the court is slated to:
- make a matter of record the oil, gas and mineral lease agreement with Pinkston Energy Co., LLC;
- consider donating of a printer to Heritage Outreach Ministries;
- lease of a printer/copier from Datamax for the 8th Judicial District Court, Hopkins County Administration, and Hopkins County Clerk; and
- a services agreement with E3 Entegral Solutions In.
- A work session is scheduled to be held in the third floor meeting room inside Hopkins County Courthouse immediately following the regular meeting Monday, Aug. 15, to discuss:
- to meet with Marshal Endsley and Sheriff and Lewis Tatum to review operations, revenues and expenditures and any proposed improvements or repairs for the departments;
- short term rental communities, RV parks and tiny homes; and
- a budget work session.
- A work session with Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Roger Feagley to discuss:
- a loan program,
- possibly a budget work session.