Finance issues discussed at county meeting

The Nolan County Commissioners met for their regular meeting on Monday morning, Sept. 12, 2011 at the Nolan County Courthouse.Two public hearings took place during the meeting: for the proposed property tax rate for 2011-12 and the records management fund for the County Clerk's office. No input, however, was offered for either forum.A date was set to vote on the property tax rate, set at a total of .423023 per $100 valuation, for Sept. 19, 2011. Possible approval for the records management fund — which is obtained and used to defray budget costs — may take place at the upcoming Sept. 26 meeting.Other finance issues discussed were on the commissioners receiving notice of the CSCD budget for 2012-13 that is to be filed with the Nolan County Commissioners' Court, which was received and approved. The 2011-12 budget for the Nolan County Auditor's Office and the District Court Reporter from District Judge Glen Harrison was received and approved during the meeting as well.Also regarding budgets yet dealing with personnel, District Attorney Ann Reed briefly presented the budget of the Crime Victims Coordinator, in which Peggy Parrott is in the position. Budget cuts resulted in the loss of one prominent grant that makes up a majority of the budget. Discussion on a possible resolution was to take place at the commissioner's budget session.In addition, approval was given to appoint two county commissioners to work alongside a committee appointed by the City of Sweetwater in regards to ambulance services for Nolan County. Tony Lara and Terry Locklar will serve in that capacity.Approval was also given on a proposal from Melinda Brown to perform the annual financial report services for the county. Ms. Brown has served the county in this aspect at a previous time.Furthermore, Zach Wilcox with the Agrilife Extension Service presented an applicant to the commissioners, Tasha Baxter, for the position of Family Consumer Science Agent, a role which has been vacant for some time. Ms. Baxter was introduced to and approved by the commissioners to join the staff on Monday, Sept. 19.Several agreements and contracts were considered during the meeting. The commissioners approved an agreement with Davis Kinerd and Co., PC to perform the county's audit for the 2010-11 budget year. The two entities have been working together for several years.No changes were noted on the contract to be renewed by the commissioners with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for child welfare services in Nolan County. Therefore, the contract renewal was approved.Also, the renewal of a building automation system service agreement with Digital Air Control, Inc. was tabled for further assessment. In the past, the company has installed thermostats in the building and performed maintenance as needed, resulting in an decrease in problems.Regarding technology, approval was given to upgrade the network switches at the Courthouse. The matter had been previously discussed in a budget workshop as some problems had been seen in the past. The county's computer tech team offered a proposal to replace the switches, which had not been done since 2005. The update will increase Internet speeds while maintaining compatibility as the networking will be upgraded in the entire building. Funds are available in the budget to cover the costs.Furthermore, an upgrade of Internet services to T1 was discussed, but was tabled in order to further review and work on the contract. The new service boasts greater upload and download capabilities with consistent speeds and strong, simultaneous connections. However, the deadline for the upgrade stands at Sept. 30.One topic of great discussion was on approval of a contract between the county and the West Texas Centers for Psychiatric Assessment for the Nolan County Sheriff's Department for inmates. With more inmates showing signs of psychological problems, the need is prevalent to have local professionals assist and evaluate inmates to determine their mental status. No written agreement has been in place before, but the local assistance should prove to be beneficial.Another topic heavily discussed was an approval to revise library law publications, but the item was tabled for continual review. Several options have been weighed, including a Internet-based program. The best choice, however, would be access through a USB flash drive in which the data would be loaded into the computer and updated quarterly; currently, a CD-ROM is used. Dialogue on the matter took place among the commissioners and even jail personnel in attendance on the current process and how the possible options would prove to be secure and maintenance-free.Additionally, the commissioners approved the Nolan County Holiday Schedule for 2012. The group was presented with a copy and it was noted that the same number of holidays are scheduled as the current fiscal year. And for the oil and gas lease, only one bid was received for the combined 9.35 acres; thus, the bid was accepted and approved.The burn ban for the county was approved to remain in effect until the next meeting. The minutes from the previous meeting on Aug. 22, 2011 were approved as well, and reports were received from several department heads including the Welfare Office and the Nolan County Sheriff's Office, Clerk and Auditor.The meeting concluded with a briefing on the incident on Friday, Sept. 9 of the marble slab falling from the Courthouse and findings from the next day. Video was shown of the accident taking place and photos were presented of the scene following the incident.