News Column

Commissioners return Hamilton to Texoma Community Center Board

August 20, 2014

By Jerrie Whiteley, Herald Democrat, Sherman, Texas

Aug. 20--Grayson County commissioners Tuesday made it official that they are planning to retain last year's tax rate of 49 cents per $100 valuation. Due to new property and increased property tax appraisals, that tax will raise more money this year than last year, which means it is actually seen as a tax increase.

County residents will get a chance to tell the commissioners what they think about the proposed tax rate at two public hearings set for 10 a.m.Sept. 2 and Sept. 9 at the Grayson County Courthouse. The Court then expects to adopt the tax rate at their next meeting on Sept. 16.

In addition to discussing the proposed tax rate, the Court also reappointed Billy Hamilton to the Board of Directors of Texoma Community Center, the agency formerly referred to as MHMR.

Hamilton said the group is "about four months into finding a new director" for that agency and he would like to stay on to complete the task. Commissioner Jeff Whitmire thanked Hamilton for being willing to serve on the Board and for giving of his time and experience. Commissioner Phyllis James seconded that statement. No one voted against returning Hamilton to the Board.

Whitmire also spoke about the interlocal agreement with the city of Howe. He said his precinct has been doing a good bit of road work for the city recently and the pot hole patching before the Court Tuesday was a continuation of that work. Supplies for that work were estimated to cost 3,829.

Commissioners also approved a request, by Grayson County Purchasing Agent Jeff Schneider, to add an additional provider of air ambulance services to County's list of those approved by the County for County employees. Schneider said the County is working on open enrollment going for those services.

He said currently those services are provided in the County by CareFlight, Air Evac and now PHI. "It is a new carrier to us. They are transporting more out of Grayson County than CareFlight is. So it made sense to put them into the mix for us," Schneider said.

He said getting a membership to the air ambulance groups makes fiscal sense because a trip on the air ambulances can cost upward of $25,000. Most insurance, he said, will pay only a small portion of that. He said if County employees covered by County insurance subscribe to all three groups, they will be out only $80 per year.

Commissioner David Whitlock asked if any other air ambulance group, besides the three mentioned, would be allowed to answer calls in the County.

Schneider said it depends. He said the rule for calling for an air ambulance is to call the closest one first. He said that would be Air Evac which is located in Van Alstyne. If they can't come, the next one called would be PHI in McKinney and then CareFlight in the Dallas area. Just which one a person gets, Schneider said, could be up to chance.

He said people can ask for a specific one, but if it is not available and the need is critical, then choice might be out of the window.

"It sounds like a really good deal as long as you are conscious and make sure it is the right helicopter," said Grayson County Commissioner David Whitlock.

Schneider said only 228 of the County's employees signed up for the subscription services last year. James said she was one of them. Whitlock said he was too. Then he added. "The thing that bothers me is you see someone with a broken leg and they call a (helicopter)," he said maybe that person just needed an ambulance.

Schneider then said, "The protocol in some places, I think Grayson County included, is if it is a motorcycle accident or if its a rollover vehicle accident, the protocol says to call for an air ambulance."

Schneider then said if he rolls his truck and is not hurt that bad, he is going to tell the medical people helping him to send the air ambulance back and put him on a ground transport ambulance. But that, he agreed with Whitlock, assumes that he is awake and can speak for himself.

Schneider said it is $80 a year if a person wanted to subscribe to all three.

The County will pay $20 per year toward that for County employees who wish to participate.

Commissioners also approved amendments to the Food Handlers test contract. Schneider said the online testing program developed in-house by the Grayson County Health Department staff has been very popular and has even been used in other areas of the state. He said the changes proposed Tuesday are expected to win the program the support of the American National Standards which is likely to help the County make the program available on a national level. All of that generates more income from the program. Commissioners approved the changes to the contract.

They also approved renewal of computer support service for Community Supervision and Corrections Department and renewed the Texas Statewide Victim Notification Service Maintenance Grant contract with the Office of the Attorney General.

Commissioners also discussed the 2014 Tax Resale Auction which is set for 10 a.m. on October 5. The sale will feature items that have already failed to sell at a Tax sale. Whitmire asked Grayson County Tax Assessor Collector Bruce Stidham why the items the Court approved for sale at recent meetings weren't put on the list for the Resale? Stidham said he thought it best to make the deals that were presented and get the items back on the tax rolls. He said all of the entities involved with the properties approved the sale. Whitmire agreed that was true, but said maybe in the future it would be best to make sure the properties went through the Resale auction so that as much money as possible could be collected for the properties before they were sold as a negotiated price. The negotiated price, he said, might be lower than the price at auction. The beginning price at auction, Stidham said, would cover attorneys fees and costs. Whitlock agreed that it would be a good idea to make sure each piece of property has had the chance to sell at box a Sheriff's sale and a Tax resale before allowing people to make bids that are below the costs associated with the properties in terms of attorney and other fees.


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