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By Dakota McDonald—
Garza County will soon receive $540,401 through the approval of the Transportation Infrastructure Grant with the Texas Department of Transportation.
Each county precinct will be awarded a portion of the money. Precinct 1 is to receive $169,620, Precinct 2 is to be awarded $154,200, Precinct 3 is set to receive $97,660 and Precinct 4 is to be awarded $92,520.
With the grant money, 23 miles of city streets in Southland will be repaired and sealed and 29 county roads throughout Garza County will be graded, graveled and repaired.
TxDOT is to help with the repairs to the various roads. The commissioners must report their expenses in their respected precincts back to the state, the grant states.
County Commissioners also unanimously approved to reinstate the burn ban throughout Garza County for 90 days.
Under the ban, outdoor burning is prohibited. Exceptions included firefighter training, public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations, planting or harvest of agricultural crops, burns that are conducted by a certified prescribed burn manager, or those who have prior approval from the Garza County Judge.
Upon notification of suspected outdoor burning, Post Volunteer Fire Department shall respond to the scene and take immediate measures to contain and extinguish the fire. As soon as possible, the local fire marshal or duly commissioned peace officer will be sent to the scene to investigate the nature of the fire. An offense based on a violation of this order is a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
The ban is set to lift on October 13.
The commissioners also addressed the 2020-2021 proposed budget, which is scheduled to be completed July 30. The county’s fiscal year is from Oct. 1 until Sept. 30.
Increases in the budget come from the probation office, which requested $4,500, and the Garza County Jr. Livestock association that asked for an additional $1,500 to hire a bookkeeper.
Decreases in the budget include the District Court which lowered its request by $10,000 and Plummer lowered his budget by $16,500 due to not having elections the next year.
It was additionally noted that revenue from the Dalby unit is to be about $193,000 less in the coming year. However, wind energy projects, such as the Sage Draw Wind Project that recently recorded 116 megawatts, are thought to help cover the burden, said County Judge Lee Norman.
The commissioners also agreed to lease 172.36 acres of farmland in Bailey County to Billy Tiller of T & B Financial Services for 36 months at $12.50 per acre.
Garza County originally received the land about 12 years ago from the State of Texas and advertised for an operator. Tiller has leased the land each of the 12 years.
The land is to be used solely for planting, raising and harvesting cotton, milo, hay grazer and other crops. According to the lease, $2,154.50 will due on the first day of February each year. Should the tenant elect to farm any acreage with cotton, the price will increase to $30 per acre and will be due on Jan. 1, 2021.
Tiller will receive all of the crop proceeds.
The court also renewed its annual contract with West Texas Center for Mental Health Mental Retardation in regard to the Garza County Mental Health Center, which provides services to any resident of Garza County free of cost.
In the contract, Garza County has agreed to furnish an office suitable for the efficient operation of the Garza County Mental Health Center, which includes a post office box, telephones and all other utilities, general office equipment for the center and allow the center to supervise and administer mental health and intellectual and developmental disability services.
The Garza County Mental Health Center in turn agreed to provide sufficient staff, continually promote and upgrade communications and services and furnish all staff training, travel expenses, postage, medications medical equipment and medical supplies.
The agreement will begin on Sept. 1 and end Aug. 31, 2021.
The commissioners also approved the public funds investment policy presented by Treasurer LuAnne Terry.
The policy emphasizes the safety and liquidity of investments made by Garza County. It also states maximum maturities, delegation of authority and a list of authorized investments. Terry informed the court that no alterations have been made to the policy since the last approval in 2019.
The commissioners approved using the County Information Resource Agency to create and secure a new county website after Norman addressed security issues with the current website provider. The county currently uses CIRA to secure its emails. In fact, one third of the counties in Texas currently use this service.
Commissioners agreed on the premium website package which includes a custom designed website template, online training sessions for content managers, one-year website hosting, website set up, project management services for migration and a secure sockets layer certificate for $4,200. After the original setup, the cost will drop to $2,950 annually.
Sheriff Terry Morgan reported the jail count is currently 76, with 39 of those Garza County inmates. Morgan also informed the court that two inmates from the jail went to the hospital on Sunday, July 12. One inmate has returned.
Emergency Management Coordinator Michael Isbell informed the court that he is delivering personal protection equipment to agencies that have requested it.
Multiple tax deeds were approved. The deeds include: a bid of $14,000 from Shae House was approved for North 75’ of lots 1 and 2, East 4’ of South 77’ of lot 2 in block 20 of Post; a bid of $4,100 from Christy Castillo was approved for lot 8, block 13 of Post; a bid of $2,500 from Ricardo Gonzalez was approved for lots 11 and 12, block 7 of Post; and a bid of $1,500 from John Rodriquez was approved for South half of lot 6, South half of lots 7 and 8, block 7 of Post.
Four items, all of which were approved, came on for consideration in line item corrections and budget amendments. $10,034 was approved to the probation office for repairs, $637.50 was approved for Charles Williams’ office and $2,954 was approved for the Road and Bridge 1 office.
The next regular meeting is set for 9 a.m., Monday, July 27.