Sunday, April 4, 2010

 

 

 

 

City gets clean audit but still strapped for cash
Tech fund supplies police with laptop computers
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

EUSTACE–Eustace city council members learned from an audit report Wednesday that the city’s finances aren’t in as bad as some expected.
They also learned Eustace may have the first police department in Henderson County to get laptop computers in their police cars.
During a special called meeting Wednesday, police chief Robert Walker and reserve officer Mike Tayem presented a technology program for the municipal court system that seamlessly ties into a ticket writing system on computer laptops that would cost about the same as what it would take to administer needed fixes ($7,785) to the current system and pay the annual ($3,000) maintenance fee.
There have been ongoing problems with the current software, city secretary Sandy Lane explained. “Lou (Sanderson, the court clerk) is having to input every ticket, due to a change in the wording needed on the ticket,” she said.
Five years ago, the city bought a court software system out of Alabama, which has not kept up with updates in Texas law, she said.
The council unanimously approved purchasing two Panasonic Tough Book laptop computers for the two paid police officers, new court and ticket-writing software and a program to enable accepting credit card and online payments for municipal court fines and water bills.
The software also enables the officers to tap into the state database to research car registration and driver’s license information.
The approximate $12,200 cost will be paid from the technology fund, and not out of the city’s budget.
According to state law, every time a citation is paid into the court system, $4 is routed to this fund, which can only be spent on technology, Lane said.
The fund has $16,000 at this time, she added. A monthly log-in fee of $160 will also come out of this fund.
In related news, Walker announced the successful purchase of eight brand new hand-held radios and five car radios that meet new compatibility standards being implemented by 2012 through a $14,500 FEMA grant. The police chief had applied for the grant last year, and through a hardship clause, was able to purchase the equipment with the reimbursable grant without putting any money up front, he said.
Council members also heard CPA Don Kinney report a clean opinion on the city’s 2008-09 financial statements.
However, “the city has no contingency reserves to any unseen circumstances and is not in great shape to get an emergency loan,” Kinney added.
“I don’t want to say you should borrow any more money. There’s just no room for much error anywhere.”
The revenues fell short of projections, he said. “The water department has room to raise rates, but on the city side, there’s nowhere to go, with no ability to raise the tax rate after the budget has been set.”
“I think the city will be fine once it addresses these issues,” he added. “Just remember, if revenues aren’t coming in according to budget, you can’t spend all you’ve planned.”
“It’s better than I thought it was,” council woman Lisa Roberts commented after hearing his report.
“No one wants to pay more taxes, but that and fees are the only areas you can look to for income,” Kinney said.
“We need to get more businesses in here,” mayor Laura Ward said.
In other business, council members:
• received the racial profiling report from Walker.
• approved the Henderson County 9-1-1 fiscal year 2010-11 budget.
• approved a Notice of Election and appointed Donna Woodard as election judge.
• raised municipal court fees for moving violations a dollar, which includes a new state fee of a dime.
• renewed a lease agreement with Pitney Bowes for postage service.
• took no action following a closed session to discuss personnel in the police department and it taking a new direction.

KISD considers parking problem
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–Parking is an issue for Kemp High School during football season, but no more so than for the coming four-year Homecoming celebration that will take place this fall.
Tuesday, Dewey Haley, maintenance director, presented two options for the board of trustees to consider.
Option one uses practice field behind the bleachers, (205,000 square feet).
About 300 cars can be parked at a cost of $87,000.
“That is just for crushed rock, and does not count the rental cost of the equipment to smooth and compress the rock,” he said.
The second option uses a 600 by 500 area behind the agricultural shop, (300,000 sq. ft) costing $130,000 for crushed rock.
A third suggestion, put forth by a trustee, was to smooth out the pile of dirt at the back.
All trustees were against using the practice field.
“Actually, we are never going to have enough parking,” superintendent Dr. Peter Running said.
“At some point it becomes wasteful,” trustee Jim Collinsworth said.
Trustee Curtis Donovan said he’d like to hear what the strategic Planning Committee came up with.
Trustee Scott Clearman agreed with Donovan.
“Let’s give them a chance to address this issue. Everything needs to be coordinated,” he said.
The committee’s report is expected before school lets out May 18. Haley said he could wait that long.
In other business, trustees:
• heard a short commentary by Running concerning possible plans by the legislature on school financing.
“Other districts across the state are cutting back. The fact is trustees may have to take a hard look (at some areas),” he said.
• heard a report from Chartwell staff concerning healthy eating and helping children learn to make better choices.
• continued the no-charge policy for transfer students.

 

Egg-cellent find!
EggGoldenEgg.jpg (126800 bytes) The Easter Bunny congratulates 16-month-old Madison Stevens and her father, Joseph, for finding a golden egg during an egg hunt March 27 in Seven Points.


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