County to Receive $800,000+ in Emergency Funds
Lee County Judge Paul Fischer announced at the regular meeting of Commissioners’ Court on Monday that the Texas Historical Commission had awarded Lee County a grant for $804,233 as a result of their application for Emergency Funds to repair the Courthouse. Despite a major restoration/renovation of the Courthouse in 2003, totaling an estimated $4.5 million, $2 million of which came directly from the taxpayers, the building has suffered serious structural problems since that time. The problems include huge cracks in the walls and floors, some large enough to put one’s arm in. The reasons for the building’s deterioration are still up in the air, but according to a report from the County engineers, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., the damage to the building has been aggravated by the past years’ drought; however, they went on to say that some of the things that were done during the renovation also are contributing to the damage. A significant part of the foundation footing was removed during the renovation in order to lower the basement floor, which has contributed to the damage of the historic structure.
The conditions of receiving this emergency grant include committing matching funds of slightly more than $255,000, which must be provided by the County in the form of actual funds or ‘in kind’ efforts. The County has already spent an estimated $120,000 to investigate and fix the problems, most of which will count toward this matching requirement. Receipt of this grant is also conditional on meeting some strict time lines concerning the scope of work, the bidding process, the bid awarding and more.
Judge Fischer said, “While this is a major step, it is only the first one necessary to correct earlier inadequate activity and to finally have the Courthouse restored correctly.”
In other activity, the Court also received an update from McCreary, Veselka, Bragg and Allen that they have collected over one million dollars since August, 2004 for the County in delinquent court fines. This covers those recovered for the County Court and Justice of the Peace Courts 2, 3, and 4.
The Commissioners also approved allowing the County Attorney’s Office to contract with Mitchell Bearden for legal assistance. This is needed to provide the County with legal representation in an area of the State where the County Attorney is not authorized to practice bankruptcy law.
Other items acted upon were appointing Commissioner Maurice Pitts to replace Evan Gonzales as a director to the Capital Area Housing Finance Corporation. The Court also approved a Fixed Base Operator (FBO) Agreement between Raven Aircraft, LLC and the Giddings-Lee County Airport Board.
No action was taken on a po- tential agreement between St. Mark’s Medical Center and the County regarding Indigent Health Care. This topic was first discussed late last year, at which time no action was taken pending further study. The Commissioners decided that so far, there is insufficient information available to make a firm decision.
After being in executive session, the Court announced that no action would be taken on the subject being considered.