Galveston County Commissioners Court on Tuesday voted 3-2, with Patrick Doyle and Stephen Holmes opposed, to reverse its five percent reduction of the salaries of the members of the commissioners court and elimination of their car allowances.
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The action came despite attorney general opinions cited by Holmes that commissioners court salaries could be changed only at budget time. Harvey Bazaman, director of the Galveston County Legal Department, said Holmes was correct, but he citied other opinions supporting the argument that the original cuts done when the FY2012 Budget was approved were not legal because adequate notice was not given to the commissioners court members that the cuts would be considered.
After an animated discussion of the legal opinions, the 3-2 vote was taken and the cuts were restored, with a slight reduction in car allowances.
The commissioners court voted unanimously to approve a 50-50 split for the Lowe’s development in Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 12, instead of the 70-30 split that was approved at the previous week’s meeting. The action came after a workshop discussion of the item. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
All other action items on the commissioners court agenda were approved 5-0. Agenda
Several items were discussed in the morning workshop before the formal meeting.
John Helsley of the Texas Mexico & Pacific Railroad LLC proposed creation of a rural rail transportation district that would serve Galveston County. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
There was a spirited discussion of proposed changes in the county’s vacation and sick leave policies. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
There also was a review of Human Resource and Budget Office practices regarding the county’s salary administration policy. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Galveston County Tax Assessor-Collector Cheryl Johnson requested a discussion of the county’s hiring freeze on elected officials, and she was very upset that the item had not been included on the afternoon agenda for action. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Sheriff Freddie Poor participated in a workshop relating to the use of county owned marked law enforcement vehicles by deputies on second jobs. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
Paul Celauro of Dannenbaum Engineering discussed an invoice for about $100,000 in work done on the Highway 87 project on the Bolivar Peninsula that officials hope will be reimbursed with state and federal funds. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer
“The project still hasn’t gotten going yet,” Celauro said. “It will at some point, and at some point the county should be reimbursed for this. In the meantime, we’ve been carrying quite a bit of money for some time.”
The commissioners court will consider payment of at least a portion of the invoice at next week’s meeting.
Also on Tuesday, Commissioner Kevin O’Brien received a resolution he requested encouraging the county to purchase American-made products. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer