After receiving phone calls and questions from residents, Parker County Judge Pat Deen publicly announced Monday morning that county offices are not closed and continue to operate.
“Specific to the annex, the annex is not closed. It’s just more of a controlled access to make sure we’re still continuing to do business,” Deen said. “Just like any other business, we’re taking precautions because we don’t want this to get into the county and we’ve done a great job with the department heads and we have a plan that I think is aggressive, but cautious to the employees.”
With the county awaiting additional guidance from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office on daycare facilities, the county has been more flexible with its employees in utilizing a rotating schedule.
“I did send a letter [Monday] morning and copied the judge on it as well requesting some additional guidance as to day cares. As things are opening up — those businesses that were considered non-essential are now open — some of the day cares are limited to only take care of essential workers’ children,” Parker County Emergency Management Coordinator Sean Hughes said. “So I did request some additional guidance as to what we can tell day cares as far as when they can open up to greater numbers and expand that capacity.”
Parker County Purchasing Agent Kim Rivas said most county offices are back to being fully staffed, but some are waiting on the arrival of protective equipment to be installed.
“Part of the hold up on some offices that have increased public traffic is waiting for the materials to come in to give those employees protection from the public — the sneeze guards and so forth — and so we’re on a list like other businesses in the state to get those supplies and as soon as we get those, then building and grounds can possibly help install the items,” Rivas said. “Those different departments will then be ready to open to the public. I think for the most part, with the exception of a couple, offices are back fully staffed.”
County Administrator Jane Wilsky said the records and deeds department is still serving residents.
“Records and deeds is open by appointment only, so you can still get birth certificates, death certificates, plats and all of that, but people can’t just come in at-will,” Wilsky said. “But we do take appointments, so that is basically open, it’s just less capacity.”
Abbott’s executive order limiting capacity of 25% is something the county is also following in addition to other businesses.
As for auto registration, since the Department of Motor Vehicles is currently closed, residents may complete their registration via mail or online, but the tax assessor collectors office is limited at this time because of the closure.
“I know the tax assessor collector’s office is waiting for the state to reopen the DMV so that’s a huge portion of traffic that’s in the annex,” Rivas said. “The tax assessor can’t do everything right now.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Craig Peacock said he did his registration through the mail.
“With auto registration, you can still get tags, you just got to put your check and registration form in the basket and they mail your tags in,” Peacock said. “I dropped mine in the box last week and got it Saturday, so it took about four or five days to get it, but you can still get them.”
Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden said limitations have been created with closures and people working from home in Austin.
“You can’t communicate with anybody in Austin and so that’s the situation. Our hands are tied on some of these offices as far as them being able to do business with whoever they need to in another location, specifically the state,” Walden said. “So from a state level, most of them are closed and/or working from home and so it makes it difficult for us to do much business that way. I think by and large we’ve done a great job at the county level managing employees and managing to get the work that we can done during this whole shutdown. I’ve referenced people back to the governor’s executive orders and we’re basically waiting to hear what comes from there as far as what’s going to happen at the state level and then correspondingly what will happen in county government.”
Deen said the most important thing is the health and safety of people.
“The bottom line is the health and safety of our employees is paramount and with a balance of getting ramped back up, and we’re doing it in the right way,” Deen said. “It’s working very well and I feel very comfortable in the direction we’re going.”
County offices can be reached by phone for any questions or by visiting parkercountytx.com.