After an extended discussion, Ellis County Commissioners Court approved the creation of a facilities bond citizens oversight committee during Monday night’s meeting.

The committee will include 15 members, with each commissioner and the county judge appointing three individuals. While the committee has no decision-making power, it will regularly meet with the commissioners, county staff such as the county engineer and Staubach Company representatives to review the construction process.

The committee’s size was a compromise between proponents of a larger committee of 25 members and proponents of a smaller 10-person committee.

The commissioners received two reports regarding project schedules and the timing and management of the bonds.

Jon Vidaurri of the Staubach Company said architectural and engineering design request for qualifications were published in two newspapers last weekend and will be published in another this weekend. Staubach representatives also are working on acquiring the real estate needed.

The RFQ process will take about 10 weeks, Vidaurri said, adding that once construction begins in November 2008, it is expected to take 16 months, making for a 33-month project time frame.

The schedule is “very aggressive but comfortable,” Vidaurri said.

County Auditor Mike Navarro said the bonds should be taken to the market Aug. 9 after the county has hopefully improved its A1 bond rating and sought bids Aug. 8.

The commissioners court will consider issuing the general obligation bonds Aug. 13 and after the final statement is made four days later, the funds will beavailable Aug. 18.

This schedule is tentative, Navarro said, noting it is still a proposal and that local brokers could be added to the list of potential underwriters.

Commissioners also approved a thoroughfare plan presented by the county’s planning office. The plan has received input from numerous sources, including the Texas Department of Transportation, since its beginnings in July 2005.

Substantial planning was done in the county’s northern areas to address the most pressing mobility issues, HNTB representative Scott Forbes said. County planner Barbra Leftwich said her office will revisit the plan every five years to make any necessary updates, noting it is not intended to be a permanent map of the county’s roads but instead “is a broad brush attempt to identify major corridors and minor arterials.”

In other business, commissioners approved:

a cooperative agreement between the Attorney General’s Office and the county for “registry only court information relating to protective orders and family violence.” an interlocal agreement between Ellis and McLennan counties for the payment of a salary supplement ($1,615) to the justices on the 10th Court of Appeals for fiscal year 2008. a contract with Southwest Data Systems LLC for voter registration software at a cost of $21,500 plus an additional $500 per month for maintenance and support. by a 4-1 vote (Commissioner Ron Brown dissenting) a variance from the county Rules, Regulations and Subdivisions and Manufactured Homes’ fire hydrant requirement for the replatting of Lot 1 of Fitzgerald Subdivision, located in Pct. 2 on Singleton Road. The lot is served by a 2-inch water line that will not support a fire hydrant. a replat of Fitzgerald Subdivision’s Tract 1 into three lots. an agreement with Corporate Express for the purchase of office supplies. The county’s agreement with Office Depot will remain in place for a number of months, after which a determination about the preferred vendor will be made, purchasing agent Richard Denniston said. issuing a blanket purchase agreement to J.C. Concrete Company for concrete repairs, particularly projects within Pct. 4.

Reports also were presented by Commissioner Bill Dodson and numerous residents regarding the poor condition of roads in Pct. 2.

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