Kerr County Commissioners got a grimmer COVID-19 report Monday, approved an MOU between the sheriff and Center Point ISD; and discussed VFDs and the VSO in relation to the new budget.

COVID-19 report

County Emergency Coordinator Dub Thomas gave his Week 16 Report, saying Kerr County Coronavirus case number doubled over the previous week, with 46 now confirmed, 13 active and one in intensive care in the hospital.

The Kerr infection rate is now 0.17 percent.

Asked where the cases are occurring, Thomas said randomly, a lot from close contact, and a handful with two or three people in the same households.

He said local officials are discussing how local- and state-provided numbers can be reported better; and how best to follow up on “contact tracing” from reported cases. He said first responders need to approach every call as COVID, for their own safety.

State Health Department reporting is slowing down, but they are adding a section for “cases under investigation,” trying to be more accurate and timely.

Wearing masks is an order in some places, but not all, he said, and that means when, and not if, those in vulnerable health condition could contract the virus.

Asked if any mask or just certain masks work best, Thomas said any kind works as long as it fits closely on the face; but not “dust masks.”

Commissioners also chose to leave their “local state of disaster” proclamation in place with no changes.

Followup, VFD,

VSO workshops

Kelly and the commissioners commented on recent budget workshops with the volunteer fire departments, and the Veteran Services Officers.

Kelly began with VFDs, complimenting them for their current funding and overall operations, saying the county must have their services and the court is working on how to fund them. Most have enough money to fund their departments two-three years with no county money, he said, but they have significant needs short-term.

He’s thinking not of a “cookie-cutter approach” of payments to all, but a contingency fund for VFDs, almost like a grant program created with county money, and VFDs apply for specific needs.

He said a number of them are self-supporting using Emergency Services District tax money plus fundraising.

Letz said he’s concerned that rewards departments that are less successful with fundraising they are dependent on.

Harris thinks the county shouldn’t change this immediately, but track the VFDs’ financial reports and requests, and help those considering setting up ESDs. “They are all having tough times right now with fundraising cancelled or postponed.”

Moser favored a “fund as needed” plan, with VFD representatives coming to the court to ask for specific amounts from a contingency fund.

Kelly said he’d want to see each department’s financial statistics and two years of financial history along with requests for what’s needed, plus possibly capping the amount allowed for each one.

Letz said the “800-pound gorilla in the room” is across the street in the county contract with City of Kerrville for EMS. And Kelly responded, “This is a great time to look at federal grants to set up our own EMS.”

Moser said they would have to consider “primary” areas plus agreements for city EMS coverage. And Belew added, one odd response area is Crider’s rodeo and dance hall.

On the VSO workshop, Kelly called it very informative, with one upshot the sheer economic impact of $100-million-plus cash influx. He said they discussed where to get the department’s operations money of about $103,000 annually, including raising taxes, grants (though the time delay is a problem), and county contingency fund for one year while grants are sought.

Harris called it a “flagship program,”

Letz, who wasn’t at the VSO workshop, said county budgeting using using “mandated” and “non-essential” criteria fails to account for the “gray area” between black and white; and the VFDs and VSO, among others, are in that category.

Kelly said the purpose of the two workshops so far was to create debates.

Moser said if the VSO income offsets department costs, it continues, in his thinking.

County, CPISD agreement

Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer got approval of a Memorandum of Understanding on communication and coordination between Center Point ISD Police Department and the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office as the two entities have overlapping jurisdictions. This agreement replaces one between KCSO and the former CPISD chief; and allows among other things, the school PD to use the sheriff’s primary radio frequency for official police radio calls.

Michael Earney signed as school district police chief along with Cody Newcomb, superintendent, CPISD’s attorney, and county officials.

Brinks Crossing,

Homilius Rd. E. bridge

Commissioners and Maintenance Director Shane Evans talked about single full 55-gallon trash barrels at Brinks and other river crossings, that are so well used and full that excess trash is left on the ground near them and not contained/out of the river.

Evans said added barrels cost about $30 each with the lids more expensive, and the court agreed he should add one each at Brinks and other sites to contain the trash.

Commissioners also set a future public hearing after a property owner at Homilius Road E. bridge asked that no-parking signs be erected to keep trespassers off adjoining land, as they have been visiting for water access.

Recognition

Commissioners recognized outgoing Airport Board president Bill Wood for eight years of service to the airport operation, its current revenue-neutral position; and participation in developing a Strategic Plan for 2019-23 for the airport.

Wood was presented in person with a resolution signed by the commissioners.

Holiday, payroll schedule

Commissioners approved the Holiday / Payroll Schedule for FY20-21. Jennifer Doss from the human resources department said both lists are the same as the current fiscal year.

The first two holidays after Oct. 1 will be Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 12; and Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11.

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