Gray County Commissioners approve new election equipment purchase

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The Gray County Commissioners met on Friday morning for their final regularly-scheduled meeting in the month of July. 

During the meeting, the Commissioners voted to order new election equipment, opting to go with the paperless option previously discussed.

The County had hoped to receive an answer from the Texas Secretary of State as to why a grant (good for $120,000) was not approved to be used on paperless election equipment. Election administrator Randa Hiett received a letter from that office doubling down on the grant’s ineligibility for paperless (direct-reporting) equipment.

“Not only is paper a nightmare to track on Election Night, but once you have those paper ballots as confirmation, we have to maintain them for two years,” County Judge Chris Porter said. 

The paperless (direct-reporting) equipment cost $308,000 and the Election Administrator’s budget has $292,000 ear-marked for equipment replacement, with more money being added next budget year. The Commissioners approved moving to the direct-reporting equipment.

Earlier in the meeting, the Commissioners approved the County Infrastructure Fund Grant Agreement for County Road 3.

The grant agreement for County Road 3 is for $231,000 and the County is on the hook for $50,000 as it’s an 80-20 grant. 

The scope of the project is anywhere between $300,000 and $700,000. The high-end is what Texas Department of Transportation quoted the County at, but the County hopes their precincts and partnering with the City of Pampa will keep the costs down. 

The Commissioners discussed at length where to budget the project (in this year’s budget or next year’s), but did approve the resolution and ordering the grant. Porter stated that the County is trying to do this project “as cheaply as possible,” but it’s hard to tell how much it’s going to be until the County gets to work on the road.

The next item was discussing a consultant for the project. The County went with Open Range Engineering, who was $28,400 and is a local business. They also received an offer from Kimbell Horn out of Childress, who was $32,000.

Tyson Paronto of Gray County Appraisal District was also at the meeting and discussed the taxable values, stating they “have went down substantially.” The hardest hit were non-ag-qualified properties (down $1.53 million), and commercial real estate (down $3,468,830) and oil/gas revenues (down $86 million).

“That’s the reason we are seeing such a huge reduction in taxable values this year,” Paronto said. “That one hurt.”

The Court also approved the following items: 

• Pay bills as approved by the County Auditor 

• Line Item Transfers 

• Budget Amendments

• Accept Justice of the Peace 1&3 Resignation

• Ordering a special election for JP 1&3, which will be held along with the Presidential Election in November.

• Road Crossing on Hudson Road

• Imposition of Optional Fees for 2021 (Texas Department of Motor Vehicles). They left these fees, which are on the registration for vehicles, the same.

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