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Year-end spending is ‘slap in the face’
by Kenda Nelson
Sep 29, 2012 | 1764 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
‘This is like a slap in the face to every one of us.’
Stanley Tuttle   County Commissioner
‘This is like a slap in the face to every one of us.’ Stanley Tuttle County Commissioner
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REFUGIO — The commissioners court refused Tuesday morning to sign off on 30 money transfers from various offices to pay $37,000 for two new pickups for animal control.

With the end of the fiscal year looming on Sept. 30, the commissioners court called a special meeting for Friday at 11 a.m. to sort out what occurred.

Commissioner Stanley Tuttle said any money left over from the 2011-2012 budget was supposed to go back into dwindling reserves.

“This is like a slap in the face to every one of us,” he told the three other commissioners.

The commissioner said they had a plan to store up the reserves.

“At this rate, we’re never going to do it,” Tuttle said.

“Two weeks ago everybody was patting each other on the back for not spending everything in the budget... then we show up today and have 30 line-item transfers.”

Tuttle wanted to know who authorized the transfers.

Commissioner Gary Bourland said the county judge did.

“He is over animal control,” Bourland said.

County Judge Rene Mascorro was absent from the meeting so Bourland presided.

What will happen if the commissioners refused to approve the transfers, Tuttle asked Bob McGuill, county attorney.

“If they are not approved, then it will stay as is,” McGuill said. “The money will go into next year’s reserves.”

Tuttle said the two pickups are already in service and being driven around.

“This is a thorn in my side,” Tuttle said.

The commissioner said a lot of equipment was needed in his precinct.

“I found a belly dump for $27,000 but you didn’t see me calling the auditor and saying, ‘find the money to pay for it,’” Tuttle said.

Sitting in for the auditor, who was also absent from the meeting, Linda Holder told the court the money may have been “cleared out of everybody’s budget.”

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” said Elaine Henning, county treasurer.

Bourland said the process is backward. Approval for line-item transfers should be made first, not after the money is spent, he said.

The court tabled all the line-item transfers and all bills associated with the line item transfers until Friday at 11 a.m.

Tuttle said the court needed to “get the auditor in here to answer questions.”

In Elderly Services matters, Frances Herring and Jimmy Ramirez pleaded with the commissioner court to reconsider the transportation policy that excludes them from riding in county-owned vehicles. As of Oct. 1, they will be excluded from county transportation.

Herring’s and Ramirez’s agenda item was the only one of 16 other items that was not listed for “action.”

“This court does not regulate those procedures,” Bourland said.

The procedures are regulated by Mascorro and Edith Collins, according to the commissioner.

Only Commissioner Ann Lopez questioned Collins on the exclusion of three dialysis patients at the end of this month.

“I’m trying to follow up on (Miss Herring’s) observation that other people have to be taken on a regular basis, so why can’t they continue being a part of the ridership - why are they being excluded,” Lopez asked.

Collins said Herring has been taken 69 times.

“This is not a three or four month process, it for a lifetime... the incidence is for the rest of their lives,” Lopez said.

Collins said they should transfer to a facility where LeFleur, which provides transportation for Medicaid patients, operates.

However, Herring told the court that her doctor will not release her to a facility without a critical care facility nearby, ruling out the facilities suggested by Collins.

However, Herring said that the county vehicle usually has three or four other riders.

“I pay every month for the transportation,” Herring said.

Ramirez spoke in behalf of his wife Rita who also requires dialysis. He said she has a weak heart and has had bypass surgery, she has lost the sight in one eye and has poor vision in the other and is frail.

He is 69 with poor vision. Other family members work out of town or have small children and jobs.

Ramirez said his wife rode with a service for a procedure in Corpus Christi and the return trip took two hours because the vehicle went through Sinton to Skidmore to Beeville and finally to Refugio. Ramirez said she was tired and needed to rest, like all patients following dialysis.

“I ask from the bottom of my heart for you to take the ladies... if you don’t, they’ll die,” Ramirez said. “Please do not turn your backs on them. They’ve lived here all their lives... they deserve better. People’s lives are a whole lot more important than money.”

Although only three dialysis patients currently use the county’s transportation system, Collins said other dialysis patients may want to ride in the future.

“Are you willing to pay that kind of money,” Collins asked. “Once you open the gate, there’s no stopping it.”

In a letter, Herring pointed out what she believes is mismanagement by Elderly Services.

“Ms. Collins has the drivers drop people off in Victoria and then they drive back to Refugio, then they have to turn around and come right back to Victoria,” Herring said. “The drivers are making 12 trips a week when they could be making only six. She’s wasting the county’s money and wearing out the taxpayer’s cars and blaming us for it.”

In personal matters, the court refused to take action on a request from Sheriff Robert Bolcik to pay $1,124 to Deborah Blaschke, the jail records management clerk, who also handles Stone Garden and Border Star accounting. The sheriff told the court that the money was budgeted and approved for the fiscal year that’s about to end.

“If it was approved last year, why was there never a change made to her salary,” Commissioner Rod Bernal asked.

“That would be a question to the treasurer’s office,” Bolcik said.

“Nobody told me she is getting an increase so I went by the salary schedule,” said Elaine Henning, county treasurer.

The additional money would put the salary above a chief deputy’s salary of $34,790, Henning said.

“Elaine is paid an insurance stipend,” Bolcik said. “Why wasn’t it on the salary schedule?”

Bolcik said every year he tries to give money back from his budget and only wants to see an employee compensated for the work she has done.

Commissioner Ann Lopez made a motion to pay Blaschke but the motion died for lack of a second.

In other personnel matters, Tuttle told the court he asked the auditor’s office and the treasurer’s office to take care of a matter involving paying payroll withholding for contract workers who were deemed ineligible to have a contract status.

“I’ve asked numerous times - a dozen times to get that done,” Tuttle said.

Bourland said that the county’s contract workers did not fit the criteria to be contract workers because they do not furnish their own vehicles and tools.

Henning said, “Linda (Holder) got that to me yesterday.”

“As long as we get it done before the end of the year... make sure it gets done,” Tuttle said.

“The reports may have to go back to October last year,” Henning said.

Henning was appointed treasurer last month to fill the term of Louise Aduddell.

The commissioners also:

•Acknowledged the employment in the treasurer’s office effective Oct. 1 of Cindy Henderson as chief deputy at a salary of $34,790 per year; and Rita P. Trojcak as deputy clerk at a salary of $30,417 per year.

• Approved the notary bond for Joanna Hill in the sheriff’s office.

• Approved a request from Teak Midstream Utility, LP for a road crossing permit for a pipeline under Schirmer Road.

• Approved a request from Southcross CCNG Transmission, Ltd. for a road crossing permit for a pipeline under Toland Road.

• Approved a request from TexStar Midstream Utility, LP for a road crossing permit for a pipeline under Dump Grounds Road.

• Postponed action on publication of a county government brochure until January.

• Approved a request from Louis Willeke to use tables from the community center for the annual health fair set for Wednesday, Oct. 24.

• Approved the final draft, with minor changes, of the Refugio County Personnel Policy Manual.

• Approved the interim access plan submitted by Gary R. Henry, airport manager, for the Rooke Airpark which will be submitted to TxDOT and the FAA for review.

• Voted against lifting the burn ban.

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