County commissioners discuss plans for new Cove annex
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Commissioners’ Court approved modifications to be made to the new Coryell County annex, located at 210 S. 1st St., at their meeting held Monday morning.
The modifications approved include moving the window for the Justice of the Peace clerk’s office that is currently located at the former county annex at 201 S. 2nd St, as well as working on ways to secure four doors from the inside for when court is in session.
The closing date on the county’s new building is September 20, according to County Judge John Firth. The last thing to happen in the old building will be early voting in Copperas Cove for the November 7 election, he added.
The home of the new county annex is the former home of the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation, with the City of Copperas Cove, the EDC and county officials approving a property swap in May, with the city to take ownership of the property that was the old annex.
The commissioners also approved Coryell County Proclamation 2017-10, which declares National Night Out to be held on Oct. 3, 2017. The Coryell County Sheriff’s Department will be participating in the National Night Out event with Gatesville Police Department. The event, which will be from 6-8 p.m. in the Faunt Le Roy Park, will have crime prevention information and will be kid-friendly.
Coryell County Judge John Firth also led discussion on the State Constitutional Amendment Election to be held November 7.
The upcoming election is important because there are three, of seven total amendments that can directly impact both residents and the taxing authorities long-term, Firth said.
“The important thing is that the only way for individuals to be able to speak is to go to the ballot box and be able to speak on each one of these propositions,” Firth said. “We encourage everybody to look carefully at all seven of these propositions and arrive at what their position is upon entering the ballot box.”
The three amendments Firth said would directly impact Coryell County were Propositions 1, 3 and 6.
Proposition 1 (HJR 21) expands the circumstances under which a partially disabled veteran or their spouse may qualify for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the veteran’s residence homestead.
Similarly, Proposition 6 (SJR 1) allows a general law to provide the surviving spouse of a first responder who was killed or fatally injured in the line of duty is entitled to receive an exemption from ad valorem taxation.
Proposition 3 (SJR 34) proposes a constitutional amendment that would prevent certain office holders from serving indefinitely beyond the expiration of their term.
In addition to the State constitutional amendments, there are also local elections for city councils and school districts in Gatesville and Copperas Cove.
The court also approved the draft of the revised County Personnel Handbook to be provided to department heads and elected officials for review. Proposed changes in the draft include changes to the sick leave policy, the bereavement policy and adding in a catastrophic leave policy, where employees would have the opportunity to each donate one day of sick leave into a pool to be used later.
After a presentation and discussion with Burke Sunday of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., a global insurance brokerage and risk management services firm, the Court approved a motion to enter into an Employee Benefit Trust which will allow the county to benefit from a 1.75% reduction in their health, dental and vision insurance premiums. The court approved the payment of $20,000 to get the trust set up and begin the process.
The court did not approve any budget changes, nor were there any budget amendments to approve. The court will meet next Monday, September 18, at 8:30 a.m. for the Road District #1 board meeting, and at 9 a.m. will move into Commissioners Court to approve the tax rate and approve the budget for the county after a public hearing, before moving into a meeting to set up the board of directors for the Employee Benefit Trust.