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Commissioners hear 2011 audit results

by Tina S. Richards

This month's meetings for Commissioners' Court were held on August 13 and August 17. Items considered by the court included payroll changes, assets evaluations, emergency funds and agencies plus preparations for the upcoming voting season. The Court was also presented with the audit results of 2011 and recognition of the Regional Red Cross Volunteer of the Year Award: Sharon Smith.

Darla Dear, representing the firm of Belt, Harris & Pechacek CPAs in conjunction with Tyler County's auditor Jackie Skinner presented the 2011 audit. This year's audit entailed switching from a cash basis auditing system to an accrual auditing system. Ms. Dear commended the Commissioners' Court for the development and operation of a "healthy" budget.

Ms. Dear noted that the state recommends that each County have at least the equivalent of 3-6 months financial reserves available in accordance with that current year's proposed budget in preparation of major emergencies. The audit highlighted that Tyler County, through their effort over the past five years of the Commissioners' Court has achieved that first plateau with a 32 percent reserve.

The Court also approved a recommendation by Belt, Harris & Pechacek that they begin the process of obtaining an "Across the Board" asset evaluation that would entail combining all of the precincts' assets (versus individual precinct evaluations) and the development of depreciation schedules for qualifying equipment.

When asked her opinion, Ms. Dear gave the Commissioners Court's audit results a rating of 9 out of a possible 10. Copies of the audit can be picked up at the County Clerk's office.

In other business the Court approved the selection of Election Judges and Alternates for the remainder of the 2012 election year with the exception of two vacancies that are in the process of being filled. Plus the location for early voting will be moved from the Tax Office to the recently remodeled Nutrition Center. The Court also approved the joint elections between local school districts and the cities of Tyler County for the 2012 November elections.

Commissioners approved changing the county's payroll system from a bimonthly (24) cycle to a biweekly (26) cycle starting in January 2013 with the proposed day of payment being every other Thursday. Changes were also approved concerning county employees' vacation time. Earned vacation time will need to be used in a timely manner versus being allowed to accrue over an extended period of time. Three weeks of accrued vacation will be the cap starting Sept. 1, 2012. The Commissioners' Court will consider special variedness, on the three week cap, on a case by case basis.

The Court amended the Inter-local Cooperative Agreement between Tyler County and the Texas Department of Public Transportation with the understanding that the Court no longer has five days to notify the TDPS office of revoked licenses. Instead TDPS must now be notified immediately of any revoked licenses.

Due to an Articulation Agreement between the 8th Regiment of the Texas State Guard and Tyler County, the Nutrition Center will now be the site for storage and training sessions of the 8th Regiment. They will be operating out of the Nutrition Center three to four times a year. The Regiment's presence will not effect the day-to-day operations of the center or interfere with the dominos or bingo sessions that so many of our senior citizens enjoy since the Regiment will be utilizing a portion of the Nutrition Center that is currently unused. Previously the group's storage facility was located in Orange. However, the group needed a more central location to meet since their area of coverage ranges from Orange to Nacogdoches. The 8th Regiment is part of the Governor's emergency response program. Members are frequently ex-military and/or retired law enforcement personnel. Dale Freeman, Tyler County Emergency Management Coordinator will be working with the Court to facilitate the agreement. This mutual agreement will add another substantial layer to Tyler County's ever growing volunteer network.

Speaking of volunteers, one of the outstanding members of that essential volunteer network, Sharon Smith, was honored by the Commissioners' Court as she was recognized as "Regional Red Cross Volunteer of the Year." The award was presented by Chris Bottoms, Regional Emergency Service Manger and County Judge Jacque Blanchette. Mrs. Smith is part of the American Red Cross Gulf Coast Region which consists of seventeen counties. Dale Freemen, representing Tyler County Emergency Management, also made a monetary donation to the Red Cross in support of the wonderful work that they do for Tyler County.