Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

April 28, 2014

County awarded road grant

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — By jumping through a few hoops and filling out tons of paperwork, Navarro County won a $384,000 road grant from the state, money to help repair damage done by oil and gas companies that tear up county roads and don't repair them afterwards.

The grant agreement was approved at Monday's County Commissioner's meeting.

The County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant Program had $225 million available for counties, but some chose not to participate because it was too much trouble, according to County Judge H.M. Davenport Jr., who thanked Commissioner Dick Martin and administrative assistant Julie Forguson for their work on it.

“There were so many counties that didn't want to file, and as a result we got an extra $70,000,” Davenport said. “Grants are a lot of work and I applaud all of you for taking those steps.”

The money will be used on county bridge and road repairs. The county has to match it with 10 percent, but that can be through in-kind work, and use of county equipment, Davenport said.

Typically, when a driller is using a road extensively the county will negotiate to have the company fix any damage, but everyday use has to be paid for by the taxpayers.

On Monday afternoon, the commissioners met in a continuation of the meeting for a phone conference with Don Gonzales, a financial advisor on the bond project. He laid out two possible scenarios for financing the $7.5 million needed for the renovation of the courthouse. The county would like to finance it for 21 years, to keep the debt payments and percentage of the tax rate about the same as it has been for the last 20 years.

In one, a private deal with Prosperity Bank, the interest rate would be renegotiated every seven years. In the second scenario, the bonds could be sold in a public deal with a fixed-rate interest rate, but it would cost the county quite a bit to pay for the bond insurance, and brokerage fees. The commissioners asked Gonzales to look for a deal under a fixed-rate for 20 years. He said he would report back on or before Friday.

In other business, the commissioners took the following actions:

• Approved transferring money from the sheriff's payroll account to the equipment account to buy a “throw phone,” which is a heavy-duty telephone that's used in hostage negotiations. It costs $13,500 and is nearly indestructible. A recent incident with a hostage made the lack of a throw phone very apparent, according to Sheriff Elmer Tanner.

• Transferred $50,000 from sheriff's regular payroll into the overtime fund to pay for jailers. The county has a shortage of about 17 deputies, Tanner said.

• Approved scrapping a utility trailer that's been used for trash pickup. The trailer was in a wreck and isn't worth repairing.

• Appointed John Smith to replace Scott Watkins on the Lake Planning and Zoning board.

• Approved going out to bids on the purchase of a used dump truck for precinct 3. Also approved the contract for  a three-year buy/lease deal on a heavy-duty equipment trailer. The trailer purchase was approved last time.

• Accepted reports from the county auditor, county treasurer, and a financial report from Patillo, Brown and Hill.

• Took no action following a closed session to discuss real estate.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com.