County facing budget issues as Luminant trial set to begin Feb. 22

By Curtis Chubb, Special to the Herald

The regular meeting of the Milam County Commissioners Court started on a somber note with Milam County Judge David Barkemeyer predicting that the county government will have to borrow money to make it through the last two months of this year.
Barkemeyer pointed out that the predicted income shortfall is due to Luminant paying property taxes on their self-determined worth of Luminant’s property ($125 million) instead of the Milam Appraisal District’s valuation ($464 million). In other words, Luminant wants to cut their tax bill by 78 percent.
As of last week, Luminant had not submitted any new information to the Milam County District Court’s office which is surprising because Feb. 22 has been set as the day to start the jury trial to determine the taxable value of Luminant’s property in Milam County.
The other major topic of discussion was the Milam County Museum. Barkemeyer announced that the museum director, Charles King, will be retiring on March 31 after 22 years of working for the county.
The plan, a plan which was discussed during the preparation of this year’s county budget, is that the county will not replace King with a county employee. Instead, the county agreed at Monday’s meeting to allocate $22,000 to the Milam County Historical Museum Board of Directors to be used at their discretion. This budgetary move will save the county about $19,000 this year.
The museum’s directors have agreed to arrange for volunteers and part-time employees to keep the museum open four and a half days per week. The directors will also be responsible for managing the finances of the museum with the county agreeing to continue paying for the maintenance of the county-owned building.
In other business, the commissioners court:
• Approved the designation of Private Road Palomino Drive in Rockdale;
• Allowed the road materials bid from Lhoist Materials to be accepted although it was submitted past the bid deadline due to the original bid request being sent to the wrong address;
• Accepted certificates documenting Barbara Vansa’s and Karen Berry’s attendance at classes sponsored by the County and District Clerk’s Association;
• Accepted a certificate documenting Donald Shuffield’s attendance at a class sponsored by the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas;
• Approved the reappointment of Gary Johnson, Ginger Watkins, and Rickey Williams to the Milam County Industrial Development Board;
• Approved the contract for election services between the county and governmental entities in Rockdale and Cameron; and
• Approved an order authorizing the sale of fireworks for Texas Independence Day in Milam County.