WAXAHACHIE — The Ellis County Commissioners Court approved to remove the burn ban that was put in place almost three weeks ago at its Tuesday morning meeting. Presenting the item for consideration was County Fire Marshal Tim Birdwell.
Birdwell told the court with the recent rains the moisture in the ground has risen and greatly reduced the threat of grass fires. He stated that numbers for Ellis County from the Keetch-Bryram Drought Index, which is used to determine forest fire potential, reflects the change. His recommendation was to lift the burn ban as it has been done in other counties such as Navarro, Hill, and Bosque.
According to the Keetch-Bryram website, the drought index is based on daily water balance, where a drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture and is expressed in hundredths of an inch of soil moisture depletion. The index ranges from zero to 800 where a drought index of zero represents no moisture depletion, and an index of 800 represents absolutely dry conditions.
“Our numbers have come down. Our average pretty much for the whole county is 570. Generally, if the drought index goes up around 700 that is when your commissioners what to do a burn ban,” Birdwell explained. “Any time it drops down lower than that we recommend that we lift it. That is primarily due to the rain we have received.”
Birdwell stated that while the burn ban has been lifted, it does not mean that people can just burn anything they want. Residents still have to abide by the controlled burn guidelines from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that has been adopted by the county. These rules are posted on the fire marshal’s website under the outdoor burning link.
In other business, commissioners approved to repeal all precious orders relating to fees that include the subdivision, development permit, on-site sewage facility and road inspection fee schedule for the Ellis County Department of Development.
The new fees for both a preliminary and final plat are $400 plus $30 per lot, $300 plus $30 per lot for a replat, $300 for a simplified plat, $250 for appeals, while variances and abandonment fees are $100. Septic permits range from $100 - $475 depending on the type of project.
Development fee permits are $100 for appeals and variances, $25 for junkyard and salvage license renewals, road inspection fees are two percent of the infrastructure costs, working without a permit fee is double the development permit fee and a general development permit is $75 for less than 300 square feet, $150 for 301-999 square feet and $300 for greater than 1,000 square feet.
The new fees will go into affect on Dec. 1.
Following the regular session commissioners convened into executive session for consultation regarding personnel matters, to deliberate the deployment or specific occasions for implementation of security personnel or devices, and for possible sale or lease of real property. Upon returning to open session, the court approved creating a position for an accounts-payable specialist.
In other business the court,
• Approved to process the interest payment to Bancorp South Equipment finance for a 2017 Mack dump truck for road and Bridge and Precinct 3.
• Approved to declare excess office furniture items from Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace and other various county offices as surplus and to be disposed of in accordance with the local government code.
• Approved for County Judge Carol Bush to sign a Xerox lease agreement for the Accounts Payable department.
• Approved for Bush to sign a contract agreement for janitorial services for a county facility in Midlothian.
• Approved for Bush to sign an inter-local agreement between the county and the City of Midlothian to participate in cooperative contracts.
• Recognized Emergency Management Coordinator Stephanie Parker for her efforts in organizing the emergency preparedness fair.
• Gave a proclamation recognizing youth involved in 4-H and naming Oct. 1-7 as National 4-H Week.
• Approved the renewal of the judicial funding supplements for the justices on the 10th Court of Appeals in the amount of $1,940 for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
• Took no action to enact a resolution for the board of directors of the Ellis Central appraisal district for the 2018-2019 term.
• Approved to sign a facilities use agreement with Southwestern Assemblies of God University for a law enforcement training session to be conducted by the Ellis County and District Attorney’s Office on Nov. 14.
• Approved to suspend collection of LIRAP fees for the county and continue operating the LIRAP initiatives utilizing previous unspent allocations through the last day of the legislative biennium.
• Approved a work order for the City of Peacan Hill inter-local for Burkett and High Meadow Streets.
• Approved relocation and expenses for county offices not to exceed $10,000.
• Approved a replat of two lots in the Flying w Estates subdivision into one lot located north of Alto Road in Maypearl.
• Approved a request to amend the county rules, regulations, and specifications for subdivision and manufactured homes to modify the minimum setback requirements.