A new year and a new county judge means new expectations for the Ellis County commissioners.
The commissioners oversaw several decisions and changes to Ellis County over the past year. For Precinct 3 County Commissioner Paul Perry, he said he was most proud to reduce the county’s tax rate over the past two years, as well as the installation of audio-video capabilities in the commissioners’ courtroom during his first term.
“While the audio-visual system is not perfect, it does allow the public-at-large to understand what is going on in commissioners’ court,” Perry explained. “It allows your county officials to be heard, during or after our meetings, for better or worse.”
For Precinct 2 County Commissioner Lane Grayson, he’s most proud of pushing the update for Ellis County’s thoroughfare plan – the first update the county has made since 2007.
“I’ve been after that since my first year in office,” Grayson recalled. “It literally took me another two years to get the court convinced that we should spend the dollars for that thoroughfare update.”
But Grayson iterated that there is much on the commissioners’ plate for 2019. For one thing, Grayson wants to conduct a salary survey with staff and conduct new essential hires that the county needs.
For instance, Grayson commented that a county planner was budgeted under payroll five years ago. But since the last position was left vacant, the county hasn’t hired a new one since.
“We need a county planner,” Grayson remarked. “We need a full-time facility engineer. Those are some positions that will absolutely save this county some money.”
Grayson also commented on how county growth is expected to increase to 200,000 people by the end of the year. That means one of the commissioners’ biggest priorities are going to be road and bridge rehabilitation.
“Growth in the county will be our greatest concern,” Precinct 4 County Commissioner Kyle Butler said. “Our populations have grown tremendously and we will be faced with new mandates. A thoroughfare plan for commute, departmental space throughout the county and new county facilities will be a great need for this upcoming year.”
One thing Perry hopes to bring to the table soon is an implementation of an evening meeting. Perry said the county previously had at least one evening meeting per month, and more residents were able to attend after work. Despite Perry’s objection, the evening meeting was suspended early into his first term.
“I think it’s important that all of our elected officials are accessible,” Grayson expressed. “That’s one of the reasons I want to do the evening meeting. But when you get your ‘No,’ you just take your bat and ball, and you move on to the next battle. I just carried on.”
Precinct One County Commissioner Randy Stinson remarked that his goal was to continue infrastructure rehabilitation wherever the county needs it, but he wants to keep it within budget, so it doesn’t have a substantial impact on taxpayers’ wallets.
“I’m not a politician,” Stinson remarked. “I’m a taxpayer. I try to look at it from both sides.”
Whether it’s the thoroughfare plan, the roads, the salary survey or the evening meeting, Ellis County Commissioners are looking forward to what’s ahead for the New Year.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Grayson remarked. That makes me really proud as a commissioner.”