Raises topic of commissioners court workshop

Atascosa County employees and agencies presented their requests for the upcoming budget at the July 23 workshop at Commissioners Court.

Most of the employees and officials who came before the court did ask for raises for their departments.

It was noted by Atascosa County Judge Diana Bautista that Joe Taylor of the Ag Extension Office will be retiring within a month. It was not yet known who will be his replacement.

For the Sheriff’s Department, Phillip Bosquez said the department is requesting a five percent increase for all of the salary areas, two additional patrol deputies and $125,000 in capital outlay for vehicle expenses. Another request includes an additional $10,000 for radio repairs.

Bosquez also explained the consoles are out of date. The estimate he received over the phone to replace them is $200,000. He believes the consoles are over 12 years old.

Regarding the Atascosa County Jail, Bosquez said they have entered into a contract with two other counties and are currently in negotiations with Jim Wells County. He is also requesting $160,000 for a new records management system. The one they use currently is being phased out and everyone is going to the Legacy system. Next month a premium will begin for those clients that still use the older system, said Bosquez.

In the Fire Protection fund, County Fire Marshal Chuck Garris is requesting a $500 increase for each entity.

John Henke of the Department of Public Safety office requested a raise for secretary Rachel Lott-Chapa, stating that her work has quadrupled with all of the Eagle Ford Shale activity. He also requested an increase in their office budget. DPS is expecting another trooper from Hondo, which will raise them to 10 troopers for Atascosa County. This year so far, the department is at 340 crashes. Last year, the total amount of crashes was 442.

Henke has talked to Jourdanton City Manager Dan Nick and they are discussing a deal for more storage as well as open up the other end to allow for 2-3 troopers in each office. Also needed is an interrogation office that is sealed off for interviews, which DPS does not currently have. Another problem is that there is not a heater where all the troopers sit and do their work. When it gets cold, all they have is a little space heater that they pass around. Excess power cords are also a problem and a fire hazard. As far as the upkeep of the yard and landscaping, Henke and his family keep it up. Henke said it is a place he is proud of and they are planning to put up flagpoles. Bautista said the sad part about it is that it is city owned property.

Some of the Commissioners requested increases for machinery and to work on roads, necessary because of the oilfield traffic.

Regarding the Courthouse Security Fund, a bailiff was requested, which would make it the third additional bailiff. The reason for this is that CPS court is moving and there is a lot of violence in the court. Judge Donna Rayes further explained that until January 1, they were part of a cluster court. They shared a judge with other counties, judge Cathy Morris. The Office of Court Administration decided that Morris was overworked. Therefore, they took three of her counties away. Judge Peeples was kind enough to let visiting judges take that docket. The CPS docket has emotions that run very high, said Rayes, since it involves children. That court is currently being held at the Juvenile Courtroom. This works okay, but Rayes said they would prefer to be back in the District Courtroom. Rayes believes these cases are more dangerous for court personnel than criminal cases.

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