Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

April 8, 2013

County deals with records space

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Two pallets of records of delinquent tax lawsuits are sitting in the damp basement of the jail, and now they’ll finally see the light of day, sort of.

The Navarro County Commissioners Court voted to authorize up to $300 a month to store the records until October in a storage unit until another solution can be found for them.

No one is sure when the boxes of records were put underneath the jail, but best estimates are about three decades ago. Some of them may date back to the 1930s, when the Great Depression made it harder for local property owners to pay their taxes, according to Josh Tackett, district clerk.

Still, the county is obligated to keep the records.

Tackett was able to determine that the records were kept for awhile in the courthouse’s bell tower, and then moved to the county’s farm, and then to the jail’s basement. Tackett explained that there are problems with the jail basement, specifically rodents, insects, damp and mildew.

Sheriff Elmer Tanner pointed out that maintenance crews have access to the basement and the basement has water pipes that occasionally leak, which are also problems.

“It wouldn’t be my first choice to put these records in a place where people are putting old golf clubs and Christmas decorations. I don’t think it’s very professional,” Tackett told the commissioners. However, he added that something needed to be done quickly.

The storage company isn’t the ultimate solution, said County Judge H.M. Davenport, who recommended that a county-owned facility should be built or acquired. He also suggested that the facility could be used for storing records from other departments where records storage is a problem.

Nonetheless, at the urging of commissioners, the court voted to authorize the storage solution, short-term.

In other business, the commissioners took the following actions:

• Following an executive session, the court voted to hire an additional security person for the courthouse.

• Authorized a lease/purchase of a John Deere tractor for Precinct 3 in the amount of $40,835 with an interest rate of 2.87 percent.

• Formed a courthouse security committee, which tentatively will include the sheriff, elected officials, county employees, and possibly the Corsicana Police Chief and Fire Chief. It was also urged that at least one member of the public also be included on the committee.

• Declared one chair and one desk salvage, along with 27 boxes of 8 by 11 form white paper. Suggestions were made to donate the paper to a charity since it can’t be used in the printers that the county currently uses.

• Authorized paying $521 to pay a court reporter for work done last year for Justice of the Peace Connie Hickman, who had to have some records transcribed regarding a possible homicide.

• Heard from the Tax Collector-Assessor Russell Hudson that the county collected $283,577 in March, and is currently at 92 percent collection rate, slightly behind last year’s rate at this time.

• Approved adding either a link or a page to the county’s website for economic development. The county’s economic development director Lee McCleary gave an update on the various deals in the works.

• Accepted a certificate from the sheriff stating that he had completed some training in open meetings and public information requirements.

• Approved the county auditor’s report, and accepted a list of the county’s debts.

• In an afternoon work session, the court discussed the future layout of the courthouse, and storage within that space.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “soundoff” to this article? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com