David Ball – For The Record

There was some “concerns” and “confusion” on one agenda item at the meeting of the Orange County Commissioners Court on the afternoon of October 20. Precinct 2 Commissioner Barry Burton was absent.

Douglas Manning, assistant county attorney, said the following when addressing approving the implementation date for either the calendar year or the fiscal year of the cafeteria plan. The calendar years runs from January 1 through December 31. The fiscal year runs from September 30 through October 1.

He said traditionally the plan ran during the calendar year. By shifting it from September through October, there may be some overlap in benefits that do not expire in December. The county’s cafeteria plan is approved by the IRS and confirmed to run from January through December.

John Banken, Precinct 3 commissioner, said the personnel policy doesn’t read one way or the other. Manning said the policy said it will be for the calendar year.

“We shouldn’t have to change it,” Manning said. “We need to send a notice to the employees they have the opportunity to opt out.”

Banken said Human Resources needs to work on this and this won’t be any extra costs to the employees. Any changes will be effective Jan. 1, 2016.

The commissioners approved a lease with the Orangefield Water Supply Corporation to construct and maintain an elevated water storage tank and water well on the site. The action shall include the authorization of the county engineer to work with terms and conditions as are necessary for the benefit of the parties.

Clark Slacum, county engineer, said the OWSC wants to expand their facilities to the northwest area near the Orange County Expo & Convention Center on FM 1442. He said there was a location owned by the county they could use near the detention pond on Lawrence Road.

It must be a 40-year lease and the water tower could serve the Expo Center and the surrounding community.

Jody Crump, Precinct 4 commissioner, asked if the county should push for service to the Expo Center too since they will be leasing land from the county. Banken said the county needs to get this deal accomplished first so they can receive grants.

“Time is running out,” he said. “In case of an emergency the elevated tank, the water well and the generator will be a win-win for the county and the Orangefield Water Supply Corporation.”

He also thanked Slacum, Manning, and County Judge Brint Carlton for their work.

Crump said at least the county could negotiate the Expo Center.

David Dubose, Precinct 1 commissioner, said Orange County said this won’t be a deal breaker.

The court issued a resolution for the Indigent Defense Grant Program for 2016. Counties are eligible to receive grants from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission to provide improvements in indigent defense services in the county. The county judge will be the authorized official to apply for, accept, decline, modify, or cancel the grant application and all other necessary documents to accept the grant. The county auditor is designated as the financial officer for this grant.

Some other points to the resolution this grant will assist the county in the implementation and the improvement of the indigent criminal defense services and the commissioners court has agreed in the event of loss or misuse of the funds, Orange County Commissioners assures the funds will be returned in full to the Texas Indigent Defense Commission.