Thursday, June 8, 2006


Bank closes branch
Monitor Staff Reports
TRINIDAD–The First National Bank of Kemp is closing its Trinidad branch Sept. 1.
Poor community support and no business growth for the bank were cited as reasons for the closure.
The bank informed its customers and Trinidad city leaders of the closing in a letter last week from bank president Vidal Jones.
“Maintaining a full-service bank in a community the size of Trinidad requires the full support of the community to be economically viable,” the letter stated.
According to the city, the population of Trinidad is around 1,056.
The letter goes on to apologize for what this “might mean for the Trinidad community,” and recognizes the “tremendous support” given it by the city and its residents.
“We intended to have a successful branch,” Jones writes.
First National Bank of Kemp opened its Trinidad branch in 1994, and has been at its current location at 205 Park Street since 1998.
In the 12 years it has operated in Trinidad, the bank branch has been unable to earn the Trinidad Independent School District’s business.
Jones told The Monitor the failure to gain the district’s business has been most disappointing, but that the district should not be blamed for the closing.
“It is strictly an economic decision,” he repeated.
Customers may use the Seven Points branch, or the bank’s main branch or drive-in branch, both in Kemp, and may continue using the on-line banking services offered.
First National Bank of Kemp first organized in 1901 and has four branches, including the Trinidad branch.

Eustace hikes water rates
By Becki Brantley
Monitor Correspondent

EUSTACE–In order for the city to continue with its plans to provide sewer service to Bent Tree Estates II, Eustace will have to boost water rates, effective July 1.
Project costs are running $150,000 above the grant amount available. Increased material costs account for the overages, council members heard.
During a workshop held May 17, the council determined this will require the city to borrow the funds, and the best way to guarantee repayment is to increase rates across the board.
“I’ve been here (as an employee) 12 years, and I know rates have not been increased during that time,” city secretary Dru Haynes pointed out.
After lengthy discussion, the board agreed to make the following changes:
• A minimum city residential rate of $20 for the first 2,000 gallons will apply, with a rate of $2.50 per 1,000 gallons of additional use; $15 for the first 2,000 gallons of residential sewer, $1.50 per 1,000 gallons over the minimum.
• Commercial city rates will increase a similar amount, with the minimum rate of $26; sewer service costs will be $25 for the first 2,000 gallons, and $2 per 1,000 gallons over the minimum.
• Outside the city limits, the charge will be $30 for the first 2,000 gallons, and $4 for each additional 1,000 gallons used.
• Deposits for service will be $150.
• Water tap rates: $550 inside, $700 outside.
• Sewer tap rates: $600 inside, $800 outside.
• Late fees will be a flat $12 instead of 10 percent of the bill.
• The cost for a reconnection, $60.
• An extension fee will be $25.
• Dual connects will be discontinued.
“These rates are still quite low, compared to surrounding cities,” Mayor Robert Pickle noted (see related chart below).
“We’re doing what we can, but for the city to continue to grow, we have to show the state we are helping ourselves, as well as seeking grants,” Pickle said.
Other rates and comparisons to local areas can be viewed at the Eustace City Hall.

Kaufman County okays $629K budget increase
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–Unfunded state pay raises for jurors, air-conditioning needs, and other higher costs caused Kaufman County Commissioners to approve a total budget increase of $629,867 Monday.
Out of that amount, commissioners tabled consideration of $315,000 marked for the indigent defense fund, which pays the fees and expenses for court-appointed attorneys for people who cannot afford an attorney.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Ken Leonard said he didn’t intend to vote for the budget amendment until there was a workshop in which commissioners could see a breakdown on costs by attorneys.
County Auditor Hal D. Jones reminded the commissioners the county has no control over indigent defense costs, as the state requires the county to make monthly payments.
County Judge Wayne Gent asked for a motion to approve the increase, with the indigent defense fund tabled until a workshop could be scheduled.
Other items included in the funds transfer were: $150,000 for air conditioning and repairs; $30,000 for communication equipment in the sheriff’s department; $12,000 for each precinct commissioner for rural fire services during the emergency burn ban, and $25,000 for the state-mandated increase in juror’s fees.
The funds will be taken from reserves and additional fines and fees collected during the year, Jones said.
In other business, commissioners:
• heard remarks during a public hearing from builders and city officials of several county communities concerning complaints of a fee hike for developers of new subdivisions in the county.
The amount proposed included a preliminary plat fee of $500, plus $310 per lot.
The original preliminary plat fee was $300, with a final plat fee of $300 and $25 per lot, plus $1.50 per linear foot of street construction.
• approved resolutions for grant applications by the Environmental Co-op on Household Hazardous Waste Permanent site, a study on a county landfill ordinance and a study on the extension of the recycling program throughout Kaufman County.