Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tuesday's County Commissioner's Meeting

Two things that are being reported from the meeting this week are a pay hike for county workers, Pay hike proposed for county deputies:
With the exception of EMS personnel and law enforcement and corrections officers, most county employees would see a pay increase of 2.5 percent under Willingham's proposal.
This is a good thing and probably way over due. The next item being reported out of Tuesday's meeting it this, County wants federal funds to help pay for new radios:
Williamson County commissioners winced Tuesday when they were told it will take several million dollars to upgrade the county's public safety radio system.

They zeroed in on federal Homeland Security funding to help pay the bill.

The county budget for next year already faces some six-figure items - up to $3.5 million in county money to restore the courthouse and about $2.5 million in additional pay for county employees and elected officials.

The radio system upgrade is estimated at $5.8 million, consisting of $1.8 million in matching funds for a grant and another $4 million to buy the radio equipment, according to Peter Collins, chief information officer for the City of Austin.
If my math is right – and please let me know if it's not – that's $8 million bucks to upgrade the communication system for the county. Don't worry the commission is on top of it, especially Frankie Limmer:
That information sparked a comment from Pct. 4 Commissioner Frankie Limmer, who questioned why Homeland Security funds aren't available for such a project.

"It's a first responder situation," Limmer said. "I see all the time where other local governments all over the country are getting significant grants, and this project surely qualified."
Obviously Mr. Limmer is not aware of this, On October 18, President Bush irresponsibly cut funding for first responders:
The 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, signed by the President on October 18, cut overall funding for first responders by $500 million.
Don't worry though it's Rep. John Carter to the rescue:
Precinct 1 Commissioner Lisa Birkman said county officials should meet with U.S. Rep. John Carter to see what could be done.

Gretchen Hamel, a spokesman for Carter, said she is unaware of any specific grants that would apply to Williamson County that haven't been approved.

"I would encourage them to contact our district office for help," she said.

Hamel forwarded a statement from Carter about grants.

"For over 20 years I have worked from the bench and the halls of Congress to make sure Williamson County is one of the safest counties in the nation," the statement said. "As Williamson County works to modernize its current emergency communications network, my office will do its best to help."
I feel safer already.

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