County pays off loan, Crump balks at federal mandate
Commissioners authorized repayment of the $3 million balance of the short term loan taken out with Wells Fargo Bank earlier in the fiscal year. The purpose of the loan was to cover a budget shortfall to pay obligations due before tax revenues for 2012 were received. Paying the loan early will reduce the interest owed.
“Next week you might want to give a report to the court on the final interest charges on the whole package,” Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux suggested to County Treasurer Christy Khoury.
Originally the cost of the loan was to be $80,000 through March.
Commissioner Precinct 4 Jody Crump voted against adopting the Orange County Section 3 Plan required by the Federal government.
The Section 3 plan requires that any contractor working for Orange County on an Ike 2.2 Recovery funding project needs to have a certain amount of employees from Orange County to be minority and/or low to moderate income.
“Thirty percent of employees have to be of low or moderate income in Orange County. They’re going to be tough on this. It’s required by the Federal Government. They are pushing this heavily. This is supposed to go out into the bid specs of any project we have on Ike 2.2 funding. How is it going to affect the bids? How is it going to affect the response to them? We don’t know,” said Thibodeaux. “It’s got to be done. We have no choice in the matter on it at all. It all goes back to Washington. They are demanding this and it is something we’re going to have to abide by.”
Thibodeaux said he met with David Waxman last week, who said it shouldn’t be a problem, because most of the contractors the county uses already fill all the criteria.
Crump was upset at the fact the government was trying to exert power over the county by mandating these rules. “This is not good; they are telling us what we are going to do by extortion tactics. I don’t like this. This is not what is good across the board for Orange County,” said Crump. “This is not right. I think it is fairly disgusting what they are doing. I understand their tactics, but I have a problem with that.”
Commissioner Precinct 2 Owen Burton inquired if these rules would also be applicable to in-house projects concerning Ike 2.2 Recovery funds. Clark Slacum, county engineer said he didn’t know if it applied to them but that most of the work was going to be done in-house.
“I understand where this is coming from, but it is hard for me to support it at all,” said Crump. He voted no. All other commissioners voted to approve since it was a Federal mandate.
Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux was authorized by the court to sign a waiver permitting the Orange County Mosquito Control District aircraft to fly at low altitudes over the territory under their jurisdiction.
“If you have an aerial program; if you provide these services; these waivers are required by the FAA,” said Patrick Beebe, director of mosquito control. “Standard flight rules say you cannot fly under 1,000 feet.” Beebe said for mosquito abatement that won’t work. They have to fly below 500 feet to be effective.
A waiver of the permit fee for the MARAD Beaumont Layberth Facility construction project was denied. Discussion on the issue of Church House Road would be saved to a later date when appropriate.
Donna Scales was authorized to replace a part-time worker for the Parks Department.
Harold D. Fuqua was appointed to fill the unexpired term of David Roberts on the ESD #4 board. Roberts submitted his resignation effective immediately last week.
Jill Shore announced a seminar by County and District Retirement System with a question and answer session about employee benefits will be held at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Feb. 20 in the commissioners’ court room.
In a transportation department report, the court was advised 10 older radios, installed in newer buses three years ago would need to be replaced in the next budget year because they will not work with Jefferson County’s system. They cannot be repaired and parts are unavailable. Other radios can be upgraded at an approximate cost of $1,000 each. Judge Thibodeaux suggested the Southeast Regional Planning Committee may be able to help with the cost of updating and replacing the radios in question.
Thibodeaux announced he has been approached by officials of the bass tournament coming in March. They have shown an interest in using Orange County buses to shuttle people from parking lots to the tournament staging area to relieve traffic problems. Thibodeaux said he knew it would be difficult on Thursday and Friday of that week, but said they will work it out and accommodate the request.
“I’m bringing it up to you now to look at the logistics and see what could be available and what buses will be available. We’re not going to say no,” said Thibodeaux. “I just want to let you know ahead of time. I’ll be working with you on that.”