The Orange County Commissioners have issued a proclamation declaring Thursday, May 5 as “National Day of Prayer.” To honor this day, the community is invited to attend gather on the Orange County Courthouse steps at noon on Thursday.

Steve Bird, a tax attorney with Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson, LLP, informed the Commissioners of a problem with a Tax Trust Property located at 340 West David Loop in Vidor.

“[The County] has foreclosed on a piece of property because of delinquent property taxes,” Bird said. “That foreclosure allowed us to try to sell the property on the Courthouse steps to collect on those taxes. At that public auction, we did not receive any bids on this property and the property was then struck off to the taxing jurisdictions.”

That means the taxing jurisdictions all co-owned this property jointly to the extent of their tax lien.

“We have since learned that this particular property that has a residential house on it, also has some underground storage tanks,” Bird said. “It was, at one time, used as a convenience store and they sold gasoline at that convenience store.”

The tax attorneys were able to get with the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality and they had, in fact, a file on this property where they had tried to enforce their rules and regulations on the owner at the time. They have turned that file over to the state’s attorney general to seek legal action against the owner. However, since that owner no longer owns the property, all TCEQ and the attorney general can do is recover some kind of monetary judgment.

“We were able to locate an area vendor who [can remove] these underground storage tanks,” Bird said. “They are familiar with this property. They met with the owner last year and offer them a bid on what it would cost to remove those tanks.”

Bird sought direction from the Court. He explainerd that there are some interested in buying the property but not until the tanks are removed and all remediation is done. If the County were to agree to the remediation, they would be look at spending $12,000 at minimum. The County has asked Bird to approach the other entities that are collecting taxes on the property (the City of Vidor and Vidor ISD) and ask them to sign an interlocal agreement to split the cost of the remediation on the property so the full financial burden is not put solely on Orange County.

The County is not required by TCEQ to remediate any of the property, but it seems if they want to sell it, something will have to be done. Prior to the discovery of the underground storage tanks, the property and house were valued at $40,000.

Burn Ban

Jeff Kelley, Emergency Management director told the Court that the County is in a little bit better shape than last week. Despite the chances for rain, he expects that the County will be facing same conditions that prompted the installment of the burn ban in the next seven to 14 days. As to avoid any confusion, the Commissioners agreed to leave the burn ban in effect. They will continue to readdress the situation each week.

Other Business

Kelley also said that TCEQ set the limits for the soil sample that was taken at the future Adult Probation construction site and the tests result came back below that limit. TCEQ has given the County a green light for construction. Kelley warned that the monitoring well will still need to be addressed in the future, but the county can refer back to the original construction plan for the building.

The Court approved entering an Intergovernmental Agreement between Jefferson County and Orange County for the distribution of 2010 Port Security Grant Funds totaling $370,000. These funds will be used to purchase a Patrol and Rescue Boat for the County.

“It’s a very equipped boat,” said Orange County Sheriff Keith Merritt.

Patrick Beebe, director of the Orange County Mosquito Control Department ask that if any bee keepers are new to the area, or if new bee hives have been placed in the county, to please inform his office. The product used to kill mosquitoes is quite detrimental to bees and they take every effort available to not spray where the bee hives are located. Please call 409-882-5717 for more information.

The total amount paid for bills this week is: $174,524.86.