Faced with escalating fuel costs which could force independent haulers out of business and compromise the County’s ability to provide road repairs and maintenance, Grimes County Commissioners approved amending the Hauling Contract with Heise Trucking, LLC to include a fuel cost adjustment factor per ton. The agenda item was prompted by a request from Clayton Heise who requested an increase of $1.50 per ton.
The motion, which also revised the contract’s original end date from Sept. 30, 2022, to May 31, 2022, passed at the March 9 Regular Meeting with Commissioners Phillip Cox and David Dobyanski voting in favor and Commissioner Barbara Walker abstaining. County Judge Joe Fauth was absent.
While Road and Bridge (R&B) Engineer Harry Walker preferred to keep the Hauling Contract in place through Sept. 30 in its amended form, issues raised by County Attorney Jon C. Fultz prompted shortening the agreement period from September to May. Fultz expressed concerns about “risk” and the possibility of lawsuits from amending the terms of a bid 18-months after the fact.
Walker’s formula for calculating the fuel cost adjustment factor is based on the price quoted by the County’s supplier, Key Performance Petroleum, and a new bid package will provide for addressing rising fuel costs.
According to Walker the bid price for diesel for the 2020- 2021 Fuel Contract with Key was $1.44 per gallon. By October 2021, the cost had risen to $2.66 per gallon and Feb. 15, 2022, it was $3.11 per gallon. On March 8, it was $4.75 per gallon.
Walker said, “Our budget assumed we were going to purchase about 120,000 tons of rock this year. We’ve already purchased 35% of that. The remainder, if things stay at that $4.75 rate we got as of yesterday that would be a $270,000 impact to our budget.”
Referring to rising R&B vehicle fuel costs and upcoming contracts, Walker said, “Right now I’m looking at somewhere between a $400,000-500,000 hit on the Road and Bridge budget. We’ll have to compensate for that in some fashion, whether it’s to cut back on what we’re doing as far as paving or forego some of the equipment which hasn’t been purchased yet.”
Solar farm 381 app accepted
Commissioners approved a motion to accept the application for a Chapter 381 Agreement submitted by San Francisco-based Candela Renewables for a 2,000-acre solar farm north of Gibbons Creek. Also included in the motion was the formation of a committee headed by Navasota Grimes Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Johnny McNally to review Candela’s proposal.
The proposed benefits of the Grimes County Solar Project include 250-plus jobs during construction with one permanent job, an estimated market value of $124,000,000 in the first year, an estimated rollback payment for all jurisdictions of $325,000 and estimated new annual land taxes of $109,000. The latter is compared to current total taxes collected of $1,620 on agricultural exempted land.
When asked why Candela chose Grimes County, Cameron Pavluk, Senior Manager of Development said, “You may have noticed the project is located next to the Gibbons Creek coal facility that was recently retired and is now being decommissioned. That coal facility has a number of existing infrastructure related to transmission. Transmission is very important to us for getting the power out of the area and into the load centers.”
Pavluk also cited partnering in areas with significant land and willing land owners to work with.
He added, “Grimes County, just being in the middle of the nations’ three largest growing load centers with Austin, Dallas and Houston, is also a very important aspect of the project’s location.”
Other court action:
•Approved Consent Agenda items which included the Treasurer’s List of Claims and Bills, payroll, January 2022 Monthly Report, Budget Amendments and Line-Item Transfers and approval of a waterline installation permit for Anderson Water Company on CR 235 in Pct. 1.
•In the absence of Maintenance Manager Al Peeler who resigned, received an update on on-going projects which include the jail, Justice and Business Center, the annex remodel and storage shed construction from Maintenance Clerk-Administrative Assistant, Elizabeth Vannolan, and approved surplus items for auction.
•Approved the floor plans and specifications for the Grimes County Animal Rescue facility.
•Approved 2022 Renewal of Confirmation Agreement with ACA Reporting and Tracking Services (ARTS), a free program provided by TAC (Texas Association of Counties.)
•Approved renewal of contract with Pitney Bowes and authorize the county judge as signatory.
•Approved confirming Tim Akers, Kyle Bracewell, Bob Leiber, Byron Kay and Alec Pointer to the Grimes County Emergency Services District #1 Board of Directors.
•Approved the 2022-2023 Grimes County Expo Center and Fairgrounds rate schedule for Friday-Sunday and tabled action on discounted rates for Monday-Thursday.
•Appointed Mary Ann Waters as Records Management Officer of the Tax Assessor-Collector’s office per Local Govt. Code, Section 203.001.
•Tabled discussion and action on the shredding of documents in the Tax Assessor-Collector’s office.
•Approved all ARPA funds be classified as lost revenue.
•Approved plat of the Old Farmhouse Subdivision on CR 235 in Shiro in Pct. 1
•Approved the Hernandez Subdivision plat in Pct. 3 and associated variances.
•Approved amending plat of King Oaks Section 1, Lot 193 R in Pct. 1 to correct scrivener’s error in acreage listed and revise the lot to 194 R.
•Approved Agreement to Contribute Right of Way Funds in the amount of $8,000 to TxDOT for SH 30 Gibbons Creek bridge highway improvements.
•Received the Road & Bridge Report.
•Approved submission of the TEVA and ENDO TX Subdivision Release Forms related to an opioid settlement and authorize county judge as signatory.
•Approved adoptions of the Tax Abatement Guidelines for calendar year 2022 and 2023 and Local Government Code Chapter 381 Agreement guidelines contingent upon review by county auditor and county attorney.
•No action on ARPA expenditures, pending workshop March 22.
Commissioners court may be viewed in its entirety at www.facebook.com/GrimesCountyCourtHouse.
Burn Ban: The burn ban remains lifted.