By JUDY SHERIDAN
Precinct No. 4 Commissioner Dusty Renfro kicked off FY 2013-14 Parker County budget discussion last week by saying that too many county employees commute using county vehicles, increasing vehicle and fuel costs. Renfro also challenged the equity of the Road & Bridge Fund formula that determines how much revenue each precinct receives.
“One thing I think we need to focus on a little bit during this county budget session is the take-home vehicles countywide,” he said. “We’ve got way too many people driving county vehicles to and from work that maybe live in another county or are just driving long distances. We need to limit that as much as possible.”
“What we have now is maybe some people taking vehicles out who are not on the approved list,” Riley responded. “We’ll send that out and update that and deal with that as soon as possible.”
Renfro said later that the county’s fuel costs are greater than $1 million annually.
As many as half of those commuting with county vehicles probably don’t need to do so,” he said. Making a change could result in significant savings.
Even when commuting with a county vehicle is necessary, Renfro said, some employees drive a truck instead of a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
Riley said the county spends $1.3 million annually for fuel, oil changes, air filters and vehicle inspections. The Road and Bridge Fund is responsible for $800,000, he said, while the sheriff’s office, another heavy fuel consumer, spends about $300,000.
The commissioner also questioned the fairness of the Road & Bridge budget formula.
“I know that most of it is based on road mileage, and it doesn’t take into consideration traffic counts,” he said. “I’ve been hearing a lot of people in Precinct No. 4 asking questions on why Precinct No. 4 pays in the most taxes and receives the least amount back for road maintenance.”
“I looked at the actual revenue that is brought in by each precinct, and the lowest is around $4 million. Precinct No. 4 is around $11 million.”
Riley said it was time to review the funding process and said the court could adjust the formula. He suggested precincts tackle their road issues jointly by taking an approach similar to that used for the transportation bond.
“I’m not talking about taking away your ability to do anything and function in your precincts,” he said. “But why not look at the big picture? For example, each precinct could look at the worst road in each one and what needs to be done with that. Those are priorities countywide.”
The judge suggested the court use leftover bond funds to pay for a priority study that would lead to a long-term plan. He also talked about establishing a common standard among the precincts for road construction.
Renfro said he was in favor of the precincts sharing expensive road equipment, some of which is used once or twice a year.
“A lot of these big-ticket items we’re doubling up on, and I think we can cut back on that,” he said.
Precinct No. 3 Commissioner Larry Walden said issues like consolidation, sharing equipment and other efficiencies were raised in every public forum he attended this year.
He said he suspects that past courts were reluctant to discuss those issues because commissioners didn’t trust each other or were afraid they would lose control.
“This court has the capability of working together on just about any issue,” he said.
In other business, commissioners set elected officials salaries and benefits at the same levels as the current budget year with the exception of those whose salaries and benefits are set by legislation.
The salaries and benefits of district and county court-at-law judges will increase this year due to state mandates, Riley said, with the county paying about $42,000 of the increase.
By JUDY SHERIDAN
- Aledo ExtrA
Water park burglar sought
Weatherford and Hudson Oaks police are requesting the public’s assistance in catching a burglar who broke into Splash Kingdom Water Park in Hudson Oaks earlier this month.
Commissioner at odds with school district's demand for land
Aledo ISD superintendent Derek Citty is moving forward with plans backed by the school board in May — plans to secure two school sites in the Morningstar subdivision, slated for the corner of Old Weatherford Road and FM Road 3225 in the City of Fort Worth’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
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Corey Kiser and Riley Sartain, members of Aledo High School’s state champion softball team, honored by trustees last week, are to blame for the 10-3 tattoo on the finger of their coach, Jeff Lemons.
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A volunteer Hudson Oaks firefighter is in the Parker County Jail on charges he repeatedly sexually assaulted two young relatives over a several year period.
Richard Frederick Adams Sr., 62, arrested July 21, faces two charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, a first-degree felony.
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Stephen Watson, interim chief of Emergency Services District No. 1, briefed the Aledo City Council on improvements to the city’s fire protection — including the purchase of a site for a new fire station — in Thursday night’s Aledo City Council session.
Aledo ISD trustees affirm hiring policy
The Aledo ISD School Board affirmed a policy delegating the hiring of most school personnel to the administration by a 4-1 margin last week, with trustees Jay Stringer, David Tillman, Hoyt Harris and Steve Bartley voting in favor and trustee Bobby Rigues arguing that the board should retain the responsibility.
Aledo coffee shop helps support the troops
HUDSON OAKS — Wild West Splash Kingdom was the host of military members and military supporters the night of Saturday, July 19, during ‘Salute the Troops,’ sponsored by Holy Grounds Coffee and Gifts in Aledo and Ducerus College Planning.
Calendar of events
Holy Grounds Coffee & Gifts, at 108 Jearl Street, is hosting a series of outdoor movies in their parking lot at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays through Aug. 23.
Admission is free and feature drinks are half price during the films. “The Amazing Spiderman” is Aug. 2, followed by “Tangled” on Aug. 9, “The Lego Movie” on Aug. 16 and “The Avengers” on Aug. 23.
For more information, call 817-440-7770.
A Purple Heart County
County Judge Mark Riley and Parker County commissioners proclaimed Parker County to be a “Purple Heart County” Monday, honoring local veterans and their families in a special ceremony held in the second floor courtroom of the historic courthouse.
Suspicious house fire under investigation
The Weatherford fire marshal says a fire that damaged a house and killed two puppies Wednesday night is being investigated as a suspicious fire and a suspect is in jail on unrelated charges.
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