The Montgomery County Commissioners Court on Thursday approved a use agreement with the Fire & Ice Festival for Oct. 6 among other transportation and contract renewal items in the consent agenda before moving along to discussion about funding the sheriff's department. Here are three actions the commissioners took.
1. Fund the sheriff's office
Commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of authorizing $1.3 million for the sheriff's department, which needs 10 new deputies. Disagreement revolved around whether this would impact the county's yearly budgets through 2020. Sheriff representatives said they intend to train existing staff to fill the positions and that there are still 82 open positions in the department, based on workload analysis. This comes after the department filled roughly 100 positions over the past year, representatives said.
"I have a problem with this type of funding," said Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador. "This right here will increase our 2020 budget—it will affect a budget a year and a half from now. I can't vote for that. We did everything that we could with the money we had to add deputies to your staff."
2. Participate in the Texas Enterprise Zone Program
Commissioners unanimously approved participation in a Texas Enterprise Zone, a state tax refund program through which at no cost to the county, incentives are offered to businesses based on the project and number of jobs created. The program is intended to encourage private investment and job creation.
3. Rename Stacey Baumgartner Memorial Highway
Commissioners unanimously approved renaming State Highway 242 as the Sergeant Stacey Baumgartner Memorial Highway from the Hwy. 59 and I-69 intersection to FM 1485. This is in honor of the sergeant who died in a 2016 car crash while chasing a suspect.
"I think the cost this officer paid is well worth the cost to memorialize him for future generations," said Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark.