Dave Rogers

For The Record

Back in the black.

Orange County has avoided both cash flow problems and loan expenses meant to keep them away.

Orange County Treasurer Christy Khoury has banked a $2.2 million FEMA reimbursement check received by the county Monday.

That came four days after Orange County had paid off an $8 million tax anticipation note it had taken out last fall to assist with cash flow issues anticipated for the last three months of the 2018 calendar year.

The county’s 2019 fiscal year began on Oct. 1, 2018 and there was concern that with about $15 million paid out for expenses related to recovery from Tropical Storm Harvey in August 2017, money might get tight until 2018 property tax payments began coming in around New Year’s.

“Due to the restraint in spending by the various Orange County departments and the diligence of the Treasurer, Christy Khoury, no more than $2 million [of the $8 million of notes] was ever actually funded,” Crooks said.

“We are pleased to announce that as of Jan. 10, 2019, that loan has officially been paid off and that debt to the county has ended.

“I’m thankful for all the department heads, elected officials and employees working together to keep county cost down during this time.”

The arrival of $2.2 million, the second reimbursement to the county for storm debris cleanup, means the county has received a total of $11.4 million from the federal government just for debris cleanup.

About $10 million more in reimbursement is being sought by the county.

Getting out from under the tax anticipation notes will enable the county to complete some capital purchases put on hold when filing the 2019 budget.

“This will allow purchases that were approved and put hold,” Crooks said.

He listed a new truck for the Sheriff’s Office, a car for the Emergency Management Office, a power washer and trailer requested by the Road and Bridge department.

The county pushed back its normally scheduled Tuesday session of Commissioners’ Court until Wednesday morning, Jan. 16.

The reason was a lack of a three-person quorum caused by having new Commissioners Theresa Beauchamp and Robert Viator in state-mandated training sessions and a third member of the court on vacation.

On Wednesday’s agenda, is the acknowledgement of $456,000 in November 2018, sales tax sent back to the county from the state, Orange County’s half-cent allocation.

Among the list of bills to be paid is $72,000 for employees’ group medical, dental, life and retiree insurance for January 2019.

Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Chad Jenkins is seeking authorization to purchase furniture for his new office and tax assessor-collector Karen Fisher will seek certification of the December 2018 tax collection report.

Crooks has put a presentation by Allegiance Mobile Health and its bid to win Orange County’s ambulance service contract, a contract that has gone to Acadian Ambulance Service for years.

“Our contract with Acadian is up. I’m a fiscal conservative and I believe in competition,” the judge said.

“They’re going to give us a proposal. The cost to the county would be zero. I like that.

“I like having competition in our county. That way, the better man wins.”