By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – In a relatively short Houston County Commissioners Court meeting, the commissioners approved a measure to re-negotiate and amend a contract with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).

“The commissioners’ assistant, Sharon Luker, ran some numbers on the last year for utilities. We are currently getting $400 a month. The utilities are approximately $1,106 per month. I consulted with a gentleman from the DPS this morning and mentioned we were not trying to make any money, but we were certainly not in a position to be losing any money,” County Judge Jim Lovell said.

Lovell said he was told to amend the current contract “… and he (the DPS representative) would submit this to his people for approval. We are $700 behind and we are still responsible for any breakdowns and maintenance.”

Suggestions were made to incorporate a cushion into the final dollar amount to cover contingencies and insurance. After several more minutes of discussion, a motion was made, seconded and approved to ask for an amount to cover the county’s expenses with additional funding for the unexpected.

Prior to the DPS measure, Lovell reported he had received the estimated property values for the county which showed property valuations were down.

“Hopefully that will change with the certified values, but as of right now, it amounts to about a tax point,” he said.

On a positive note, however, County Auditor Melissa Mosley informed the court the Secure Rural School funding had been received by the county.

“We received in the bank – not some vague letter of approval – we actually received $258,728.33 for the timber funds,” she said.

The amount received will be split with the various school districts in Houston County on a proportional basis of how much land the National Forest encompasses in the individual ISDs.

In other matters brought before the court:

  • The commissioners approved the minutes from previous meetings.
  • The payment of bills and expenses incurred by the county were approved.
  • The Houston County Treasurer’s report and Compensatory report were received as information by the commissioners.
  • The salaries for a part-time heavy equipment operator and full-time information technology technician were approved by the court.
  • The payment of accumulated vacation, holiday and comp time for a resigning or terminated employee was approved,
  • The payment of earned overtime to a part-time employee was approved.
  • The court accepted a donation in the amount of $3,136 for improvements to County Road 4065.

Will Johnson may be reached via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.