Commissioners considered a grant application from VEM Global/Resorts and Lodges.com for the amount of $18,000, to be used toward advertising on their website for lodges in Llano County. Llano County Tourism Committee, or Llano HOT Committee, which distributes the hotel and motel tax collected by the county, recommended approval for the full amount.
County Treasurer Sandra Overstreet disagreed, expressing concern that the grant was only going to seven lodges out of the sixty in the county. She told Commissioners that the last similar grant was for $10,000 and only two lodges participated.
She objected to allowing only a few lodges use the majority of the funds. Gwen Carpenter spoke on behalf of the committee, saying that the option to participate is open to all of the lodges in the county, but that not all of them want to participate; she also said that the advertising of the few does offer residual benefit for the ones who don’t, particularly through referrals between the lodges when booked.
Commissioners agreed to table the issue until more information could be gathered for their review.
With a four to one vote, Commissioners voted down the proposal to establish new specifications for county road signs. The suggestion came from Precinct 1 Commissioner Johnnie Heck, who proposed that the county switch from the traditional green and white road signs to a larger and more definable blue and yellow scheme. Heck received an estimate for approximately 100 signs from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Prison System for $1,523. Commissioners Jerry Don Moss and Linda Raschke agreed that the signs were an improvement, but voiced concerns that replacing all of the signs in the county would not be feasible currently.
An invoice submitted by Cher-Tex Communications, owned by Bode Barker, was once again considered for payment. The invoice was for parts and service used for the installation of security camera systems at each site of the Tri-County Tower Project, but had been submitted without first obtaining a purchase order. State statute prohibits payment for parts if no purchase order is obtained, but allows payment for service, leaving the ultimate decision up to the Commissioners Court.
Judge Brascom opened the discussion by informing Commissioners that an inquiry initiated by the District Attorney’s office and carried out by Texas Ranger Marcus Cantu found that there was no criminal activity involved.
Commissioners first considered the matter in January, voting to not pay the invoice based on the violation of purchase order procedures by Cher-Tex.
In March, Commissioners considered the matter again, and heard from Bode Barker and Bill Edwards, Llano County Precinct 3 Constable, and one of two men hired by Barker to do the work. During the conversation at that meeting, it was discovered that instead of the four people listed on the invoice as doing the work, it was only Billy Edwards and his son, and, according to Edwards and Barker, the invoice was manipulated in order to meet the regulations of Homeland Security, and had to be input into the system a certain way.
On Monday, the same concerns brought up at previous meetings were reiterated, with Auditor Cindy Lent saying that the changing stories concerned her. Commissioner Moss expressed his frustration with the situation. Commissioners also expressed objections to elected officials sub-contracting jobs to the County.
Commissioners voted 3-2 to deny payment of the invoice.
Another invoice submitted by Cher-Tex in November 2011 was considered for approval, but in this case it was for the replacement of a flashead on the Lookout Mountain Tower. In the event that a flashead goes out, the county must replace it within 15 days, according to Judge Brascom. When it went out, Cher-Tex was called and, believing that the part was under warranty, ordered it from Unimar.
It wasn’t until after the work was done and reimbursement sought that Unimar told the county that it was not covered under warranty.
Cher-Tex submitted an estimate for the parts over $4000, which was the cost of the part plus an 18% service fee. Judge Brascom obtained the original invoice and after negotiations, received a $520 credit from Global One in lieu of the warranty, and proposed that Cher-Tex be reimbursed the amount billed them by Unimar, which came to $3007.31.
Citing the emergency nature of the repair, Commissioners voted unanimously to pay the invoice.
A low water emergency access ramp was completed through the collaborative efforts of the County, Lake Buchanan Conservation Corp and LCRA. The ramp is located at Shaw Island, and will allow boats access to the lake when levels drop below 1000 feet. LBCC representative Todd Boyd thanked the county and Stan Rountree, who represented LCRA, for their participation. The County provided manpower, the LBCC purchased all of the supplies and the LCRA provided the location and manpower.