• September 22, 2019

County’s proposed rate means higher taxes - Odessa American: Ector County

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County’s proposed rate means higher taxes

Burn ban goes into effect to combat raging grass fires

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Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2019 4:58 pm

Ector County commissioners Tuesday set a proposed property tax rate for 2019-20 and, hearing there’d been an alarming number of grass fires since June 1, enacted a burn ban that will be in effect until further notice.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Simmons, who was 12 minutes late for the 10 a.m. session, moved that the tax rate be tentatively established at 37.5 cents per $100 in valuation, subject to public hearings at 6 p.m. Sept. 5 and 10 a.m. Sept. 10 in the commissioners courtroom in the county administration building at 1010 E. Eighth St.

Simmons noted that the proposed rate is under the current levy of 39.7 cents but above the effective rate of 35.41, which would raise the same as this year’s oil boom-fueled collections, which is a tax increase for property owners. His motion passed 5-0.

Assistant Fire Chief Joey White garnered approval of the burn ban after saying his department had extinguished 133 grass fires in the city and county since June 1, including one that charred 2,500 acres in Winkler and Ector counties Aug. 22-23.

Asked what was causing the blazes, White said, “Some of it is natural with lightning and electric lines hitting the ground.

“And some of it is people just being careless, burning trash and grass and not having a good water source nearby to knock it down.”

In an interview after the meeting, White said a lightning bolt probably jump-started last week’s conflagration in Winkler County before a strong east wind pushed it into Ector County.

He said Odessa Fire Rescue responded along with fire fighters from Goldsmith, West and South Odessa and Andrews, working from 4:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

White said good rains earlier this year caused the grass to grow tall and now that it’s dried out, the fire department won’t let anyone to burn anything because the conditions are so volatile that a fire could blow out of control even with fire fighters present.

In other business, Precinct 1 Commissioner Eddy Shelton reported meeting with representatives of Wildcatter Aviation and Texas Aero and board members of Odessa Airport-Schleymeyer Field to discuss Wildcatter’s proposed assignment of its term hangar lease agreement to the Waco-based Texas Aero.

Saying the Waco company is very experienced and would be a good partner, Shelton successfully moved that the new contract be approved with an option for three five-year extensions. He explained that the extensions were needed because the firm will make a substantial investment in improvements. Shelton’s motion was approved 5-0.

Sheriff Mike Griffis’ requests were OK’d to spend $333,822 for surveillance and patrol systems related to the $19-million county jail expansion scheduled for completion this fall and to buy $352,118 in Chevrolet Tahoe patrol vans.

The court reappointed West County Volunteer Fire Department Chief Richard Pease and fire department board member George Anderson to the 911 Emergency Communication District Board.

>> Approved spending $28,308 for metal shed covers for the road maintenance department.

>> OK’d an agreement between the Ector County Law Enforcement Detention Center and Permian Medical Staffing for temporary nursing staff.

>> Approved a contract with Summit Food Service for the detention center.

>> Renewed the county’s Travelers Indemnity insurance contract, in partnership with USI Insurance Services, for 2019-20 coverage of property, inland marine, commercial general liability, commercial auto, commercial umbrella-excess liability, employee benefits liability, law enforcement liability, public entity management liability and public entity employment-related practices liability.

>> Approved paying a part-time LVN at the health department $20 an hour.

>> OK’d spending $2,574 for padlocks, a storage building, chairs and a desk for the jail expansion and $600 for furniture and equipment for Judge Denn Whalen’s 70th District Court.

>> Approved County Clerk Jennifer Martin’s records archival plan.

>> Allocated $13,950 to the highways and streets department for improvements and construction.

>> Revised the smoking section of the employees handbook to include language about electronic nicotine delivery systems, or “vaping.”

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