Liberty County Commissioners Court continued its work with the City of Dayton on Tuesday, Jan. 10, as they discussed plans for the County to take over the City’s residential collection site off of FM 1413 on the west side of Dayton. After their regularly scheduled meeting concluded, commissioners, County Judge Jay Knight, County Attorney Matthew Poston and Assistant County Attorney Kathrine McCarty held an executive session to discuss the potential transition in greater detail.
Dayton City Mayor Caroline Wadzeck, Assistant City Manager Kim Judge and Interim City Manager Calyn Wesson attended the regular meeting and waited outside in the hallway of the courthouse while commissioners pondered the best way to move forward. The City of Dayton no longer wants to be in the trash business and the County has agreed to take over the waste collection site as it is a benefit to residents. However, negotiations are ongoing.
The biggest roadblock to an agreement between the two entities is who will be responsible for the cleanup of the site. According to Judge Knight, there are a significant number of tires that will have to be transported to a tire recycling facility.
“Hopefully we can hammer out the details of the cleanup between the City and the County until it is satisfactory for the County to move forward with operation of the collection center. First and foremost is who will be staffing the site. It will be under the supervision of Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur, who is over all the other collection sites in the county,” Knight said after the meeting.
The facility continues to be operated at this time by the City of Dayton. A special-called commissioners court meeting is being planned for next week, at which time the County and the City may have reached an agreement on the shared costs of the cleanup.
At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners court heard from Albert Garcia, a CPA with Mayes and Associates PLLC, the firm contracted for the County’s annual audit from 2022. Garcia said the County had a healthy fund balance of around $25 million leading into 2022 and the audit found no material weaknesses.
“That just means that we have a county auditor and county treasurer who are tighter than a fiddle’s E string,” Knight said jokingly.
Commissioners approved the $37,500 purchase of a property on Main Street in Daisetta for the future Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Office. The land currently is owned by Mary Lee Best, who originally wanted $45,000 for the property. Through negotiations, the County was able to get the land for the lower price. Commissioners also approved the $88,160 purchase of a commercial-grade portable building from Standard Portable Buildings in Cleveland. The bid was the lowest of those submitted and commissioners are comfortable working with Standard Portable Buildings as that same company was used for the purchase of the new Pct. 5 constable’s office on SH 321 in Tarkington.
Commissioners also approved engineering agreements for sewer improvement projects for the cities of Ames and Hardin. Both projects are being funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds received by the County.
New storage buildings are being planned for Pct. 1 Road and Bridge and the Jack Hartel Building at 318 San Jacinto St., Liberty. The Hartel Building is used by first responders during times of natural disaster and crisis, and is one location where the American Red Cross and other relief organizations would drop off supplies during emergencies.
“Most of the time we have goods lying out there during a hurricane [recovery]. This will give us a place to protect these items,” explained Pct. 1 Commissioner Bruce Karbowski.
Commissioners authorized a contract for architectural service with Burns Architecture, LLC. for a builder’s set of drawings for the metal building and equipment shed for Pct. 1 Road and Bridge and the equipment shed for the Hartel Building. The costs of these plans is $10,000.
The county attorney’s office in the Liberty County Courthouse will soon be receiving some much-needed remodeling that will include the installation of security features. Commissioners approved the $32,180 expenditure for remodeling at the Tuesday meeting.
In other business, County Clerk Lee Chambers asked commissioners court to approve the purchase of online notice software – textmygov – that could be used to provide electronic notice postings with online access and digital kiosks in the courthouse. Chambers explained that the cost of the program is $12,500 and would be paid for entirely through the County Clerk Records Management Fund, which takes in roughly $50,000 each month for the County through the purchase of documents and the payment of filing fees.
Chambers explained that the software system could be used by all county departments through her office to better inform the public of road closures, meetings and other important notices. Prior to the meeting, Chambers worked to get a $5,000 credit for the purchase of the program, although the credit was only good through Tuesday’s meeting. Despite this incentive, commissioners decided to table the item until they could research it further and then discuss it at a future meeting.