The court had recently voted to renegotiate with Austin Bank rather than seek other bids on being the depository. The new depository contract is effective from June 1, 2013 to May 31, 2015.
Austin Bank has been the county’s depository for nearly two years.
In other action Thursday, the court discussed, but took no vote, on seeking sealed bids for an oil and gas lease on Upshur County’s “school land” in West Texas. The matter was informally tabled until the court’s next meeting.
Some revenue from the school land in Baylor and Throckmorton Counties is annually distributed among the nine school districts lying partly or wholly in the county.
County Judge Dean Fowler said Pct. 4 Comm. Mike Spencer had been working on the oil and gas lease issue, and that Spencer had received a letter from Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd., identifying blocks it would like to lease in Throckmorton County.
Pct. 3 Comm. Frank Berka said the court needed to consider inserting a provision in such a lease involving surface damages to roads and pads.
Berka also said he is working with State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) to pass legislation allowing the Texas Railroad Commission to revoke drilling permits for drillers “if they don’t notify the landholder” by a certain time.
Spencer said he would “get some stuff drawn up” for a potential oil/gas lease and present it to the court for consideration April 15.
The court also Thursday approved receiving $1 from the National Assn. of Counties (NACo) for each prescription that county residents have filled under the association’s Prescription Discount Card Program.
Berka noted the free card, which reduces the cost of prescriptions, is available to any Upshur County citizen at the courthouse and the Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office.
He estimated that the county’s option to receive the $1 would raise about $700 annually, roughly the amount the county pays to belong to NACo.
Although NACo said that counties which choose not to receive the $1 could expect to see a 2 to 2.5 percent increase in savings to residents, Berka told The Mirror that receiving the $1 will offset property taxes.
The cards can be used in pharmacies outside Upshur County, but Berka said two Gilmer drug stores, Med-Shop Pharmacy and Walmart, accept them.
Berka said the cards are now being used only 50 to 60 times monthly, compared to nearly 150 times monthly in 2010. He cited the need to publicize them.
The court also heard reports from appointed department heads Thursday and an employee of the firm which handles the county’s information technology, Estella Sheets of Inline.
Road and Bridge Administrator Andy Jordan, who only recently took office, said his department has patched “bunches of” roads and cut numerous trees, but had not made a “dent” in the number that needed attention. However, he said, “everything is going well” generally and that the department would repair roads “when it warms up and dries out.”
Jordan also said he “installed policies and procedures to control inventory and waste. That was a very bad problem out there.”
Also reporting to the court were Building Maintenance Supervisor Chuck Mears and County Librarian Mark Warren.
Berka asked Warren about the fact pornography can be accessed from the library’s computers, which Berka said is “improper.”
Warren replied that if the library put a filter on computers to block certain content, it would filter out terms like “breast cancer” and thus prevent someone from doing legitimate research on that topic.
The librarian said the computer level is sunk to where the person sitting next to the computer user can’t see that computer very well.
“We don’t have a rampant problem (with people accessing pornography), but we do have (instances of) it,” Warren said.
Among other business, the court also Thursday appointed Larry Morse to the Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority’s board of directors.