County employees request travel expenses at commissioners court
There were several agenda items regarding employee travel at the regular meeting of the Orange County Commissioners Court on January 20.
Mary Johnson, county auditor, requested her assistant county auditor to fly to Lubbock to attend educational training at the Tyler Technologies facility.
Johnson said there is no cost for the course, the county would have to cover travel and lodging fees.
John Banken, Precinct 3 commissioner, asked if the training was mandatory. Johnson answered no but said it is advanced training in financial software systems and offered only once a year. The assistant county auditor would serve as a back-up to Johnson.
Jody Crump, Precinct 4 commissioner, asked if there was still a travel ban for county employees. He was informed that there was.
David Dubose, Precinct 1 commissioner, said Johnson did bring the matter before the court. Johnson added it is also an advanced report writing course.
Banken asked if this would be new training and new knowledge would be brought back that the county doesn’t possess.
Johnson said her office currently doesn’t have anyone who has advanced report writing skills. Crump asked what the total cost to attend is. Johnson said $700, the cost to get there and the hotel would cost $75 a night. Crump and Banken voted no for the travel while Dubose and Barry Burton, Precinct 2 commissioner, voted yea. County Judge Brint Carlton was away on business. The motion failed to be approved because of the deadlock vote.
Missy Pillsbury, risk management coordinator, requested to attend the County Management and Risk Conference in Austin. This is a budgeted item and there is no additional funding that is requested.
Travel and lodging will be reimbursed, meals aren’t reimbursed.
The motion was approved. Pillsbury, likewise, also requested to travel to the Texas Aviation Conference in San Marcos. There is no reimbursement for this travel. A two-night hotel stay will total $195.50 and $103.50 for meals. It also was approved.
The last item regarding employee travel was for County Judge Brint Carlton to fly to Lubbock for Judicial Education. All travel, meals, and lodging will be reimbursed through the Texas Association of Counties.
Crump asked if this was required training which was answered in the affirmative. The motion passed.
Another personnel matter was for recording in the minutes the order for setting the salary for an assistant auditor. Johnson said two assistant auditors who retired need replacements in the department.
Crump asked Johnson if the six-week delay in hiring new county employees applies to the county auditor office. She said it does not because she is under the district judges and not the commissioners court.
Gary Biehslich, owner of GT Auto in Vidor, requested the waiving of penalty, interest, and attorney’s fee associated with his property.
In a letter to the commissioners court, Biehslich wrote GT Auto owns a rent house and two garage buildings, all on adjoining property to Burger King’s administrative building. All were purchased at different times.
As a result of a tentative offer to purchase GT Auto, he decided to make sure all possible items that could hinder any sale were addressed.
There was a building identified as built in 1972 on the Orange County tax statement that was incorrect. Bieshslich wrote Chief Appraiser Mike Cedars of the OCAD to look into the matter on Nov. 21, 2014. He then wrote the OCAD on Dec. 3, 2014. He received a tax statement for taxes dating back to 1998, the date he purchased the Burger King property for a total of $782.91 plus penalty and interest and attorney fees totaling $801.46.
He wrote the issue regarding this small piece of property has to do with the drive through window that he would had acquired originally. The oversight was corrected prior to submitting the property’s legal description to the title company and OCAD. Biehshlich said the tax code requires the property owners to notify the district within 181 days after receiving the bill.
He concluded his letter stating the responsible government districts did not properly follow procedures and claim that no one has the authority to correct the error.
“Everyone I talked to in both districts tell me they understand and sympathize with my problem,” he wrote. Banken said he wanted to gain a better understanding of the issue to be fair.
The commissioners voted to place the item on next week’s agenda and address it then.