Court approves plan to move offices

Several county officials to relocate to make room for new court office

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light

Offices in the Ellis County Historic Courthouse are on the move after the Ellis County Commissioners Court approved a plan on how to relocate county offices and departments during Tuesday’s regular bi-weekly meeting.

The offices being moved are the county treasurer, the purchasing department, the emergency management department and Ellis County Precinct 3 Constable. The moves are necessitated by the new County Court at Law No. 3, which is scheduled to convene in January. County purchasing agent E.J. Harbin said work on the new courtroom is ready to begin, which necessitates the relocation of the treasurer’s office.

County Judge Todd Little presented three plans to consider for the move. Plan A, which was approved, involves the first and second floors and the basement inside the Ellis County Historic Courthouse.

The Treasurer’s office will move from the Courts and Administration Building back into its original office on the second floor of the courthouse, where the purchasing department operates now. This will free up office space for the new County Court at Law No. 3.

Purchasing will move to the courthouse’s first floor where Emergency Management currently operates. Emergency Management in turn will relocate to the basement office formerly filled by Accounts Payable, which has been merged into the Auditor’s Office.

The Precinct 3 Constable will relocate, allowing Purchasing to move into what is now the constable’s office on the second floor. The constable will either relocate to the deputy constable’s office or to the former constable office in the basement. Little said he would work with Constable Curtis Polk to decide the better alternative.

“It wouldn’t be the perfect scenario for Constable Polk because it would be a little bit smaller,” Little said. “Some of the cabinets in the room for storage make the room a little bit tighter.”

Polk told commissioners that he has a computer that requires security, and that he needs an office that only law enforcement personnel can access.

Under Plan B, which was rejected, Purchasing would remain in its current location, while the Treasurer would move to the first floor and Emergency Management would move to the basement. Little noted some security concerns involved in putting the Treasurer on the first floor.

Plan C, which was also rejected, would move the Treasurer to the current IT office in the basement of the Courts Building, keeping it in the same building. The two IT people would move to an extra office adjacent to the IT conference room. Emergency Management would still relocate to the basement from the first floor, and Harbin would occupy the current Precinct 3 Constable office while the rest of Purchasing would remain in its current office.

County Treasurer Cheryl Chambers told commissioners that she preferred Plan A, moving her office to the second floor of the Historic Courthouse, because it already has space for storage of files and security features such as a barrier and vault that her office needs. Chambers said, as an elected official, she opposed moving to the basement because of restriction of public access.

Harbin said that he would prefer his department to remain in its current office. Harbin also said moving himself to a separate office would disrupt the workflow because he regularly interfaces with others in his department.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Randy Stinson said he favored Plan C because it created the last amount of conflict. However, Precinct 3 Commissioner Paul Perry said he favored Plan A for the Treasurer’s office because the security is already there, and Perry added that he was against locating it in the newer building’s basement.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Lane Grayson said he backed Chambers in her desire to move back to the courthouse. Precinct 4 Commissioner Kyle Butler said Option A is the best of the three options, and Butler also added that the county’s office space crunch must be addressed soon.

The final vote was 3-1, with commissioners Grayson, Perry and Butler voting in favor of Plan A and Stinson voting against.

Commissioners separately approved a contract with Ellis County Blue Line Moving Co. for relocation and moving expenses in an amount not to exceed $7,500.

Other items

• Judge Little presented a proclamation in honor of Veterans’ Day in Ellis County.

• The consent agenda was approved with the exception of a request for a Step 1 Dispatcher, which was pulled and discussed separately. Sheriff Chuck Edge requested that funds be moved from a contingency account to the sheriff’s account so he can complete hiring needed personnel, which included two people who were inadvertently left off the agenda. The dispatcher hire was approved and the other two hires will be made at a special meeting next week.

• A contract was awarded to SPCA of Texas for operation of the county’s animal shelter at a cost of $6,883 per month. Harbin said SPCA of Texas will renovate the facilities at their cost and will work with cities in the county to make it a regional shelter.

• A final plat of a 13.458-acre property at the intersection of Central High Road and FM 1183 in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Ennis was approved, as well as a plat for a 6.176-acre property on the north side of Youngblood Road west of FM 878 in Waxahachie’s ETJ; a 10.315-acre tract on the southeast side of Hampel Road east of Interstate 45 in Palmer; a 1.71-acre property on the west side of South Oak Branch Road in Maypearl’s ETJ; a 3.594-acre parcel south of the intersection of Longbranch Road and Black Champ Road in the Waxahachie ETJ and a 6.968-acre property on the west side of Bud Run Road in Forreston. A one-time variance and a plat were approved for a small lot at the intersection of Gerry Lane and FM 664 in Ovilla’s ETJ.

• The county’s contract with Martin Marietta for road materials was renewed for one year, with a price increase of $2 per ton for rip rap and no increase for other products. A contract with Rattler Rock for road material was also extended for one year at a price increase of 25 cents per ton on all material.

• A one-year agreement with LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Inc. for the Ellis County Clerk was approved.

• A number of equipment and supplies, mostly computer hardware, were declared surplus for the Ellis County and District Attorney’s Office.

• Commissioners approved the purchase of an Etnyre 7,000-gallon emulsion tank from R.B. Everett & Co. for Road and Bridge Precinct 2 in the amount of $71,146, using a cooperative contract.

• A service agreement with UT Southwestern Medical Center for mobile mammography for county employees was approved.

• Commissioners authorized the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post to place a 20-foot-long shipping container for storage at the Law Enforcement Center.

• The court approved a public hearing for Dec. 1 and posting public notice on the intent to change the name of Bud Run Road to Carr Road. County engineer Ted Kantor said a high number of sign thefts necessitates a change. The court took the same action on the intent to install four-way stop signs at the intersection of Ebenezer Road and Wilson Road.

• A contract with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Commission for structural repairs to the Mountain Creek dam was approved. The cost to the county will be only one to two percent of the total cost, Kantor told commissioners.