Galveston County Commissioners Court on Tuesday held a workshop meeting on issues related to the Gulf Coast Water Authority.
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“There’s a bunch of issues that are swirling around on the Gulf Coast Water Authority,” said Commissioner Ken Clark. “It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of camaraderie on the Gulf Coast Water Authority board.”
Clark was upset that the board did not actively oppose legislation to provide voting membership on the GCWA board to Brazoria and Fort Bend counties, which had been opposed by the commissioners court.
“This legislation got to the Senate, and that’s where it should have been stopped,” Clark said, noting that the legislation has been approved by the Senate and now is under consideration in the House. “The question I have is, why did the Gulf Coast Water Authority not show up at the Senate hearing?”
GCWA Chair R.C. Williams said it was his understanding that former general manager Robert Istre was handling the issue.
“He talked to us about hiring a lobbyist,” Williams said. “We felt everything was in place and was going on.”
“So he had the authority to hire a lobbyist?” asked Galveston County Judge Mark Henry.
“Yes,” Williams responded.
Istre, who resigned from the board two weeks ago prior to a meeting that was called to consider his termination, attended the commissioners court workshop, but did not speak.
GCWA board members Joe Trahan and Eric Wilson attended the workshop but Wilson, who was concerned about an illegal quorum at the meeting, refrained from speaking. He said he was at the meeting in his capacity as a representative of the City of Galveston.
At its regular meeting, the commissioners court voted unanimously to clear the title on a site on the Bolivar Peninsula for the Bolivar Fire Station based on adverse possession.
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“We’ve been using this (property) for about 20 or 30 years,” said Barry Willey, an attorney in the Legal Department. “We found out we didn’t have legal title to some of that property involved.”
Willey said the county has been unable to locate the owners of the property, thus legal action is being taken to clear the title so that the fire station can be built.
The commissioners court named Right of Way Agent Claudette Fickessen as a special commissioner to receive bids for a license to use a portion of the Galveston Seawall at 25th Street, to facilitate the development of the Pleasure Pier by Tilman Fertitta.
The commissioners court voted to refund penalties and interest on the payment of delinquent taxes on two parcels of property owned by Michael W. Hamilton, because the County Tax Office mailed the tax bills to an incorrect address.
The commissioners court also voted to approve refunds to Wayne Cartwright and Raymond Reed because their payments were apparently lost in the mail. Deputy Tax Assessor Collector Ken Laird said there was evidence that the check had been written and mailed. Two other requests for waiver/refund of P&I were denied because the delinquencies were not caused by an error of a government agency.
All other agenda items were approved. Agenda
All votes were unanimous, with Patrick Doyle absent.
Finance Director Ronald Shelby introduced the commissioners court to Mel Trammel, the county’s new budget officer.