County commissioners table voting machine decision

By Lindsey Vaculin

General Manager


Milam County Commissioners tabled a vote on the purchase of new voting equipment for the county to allow the cities and school districts time to present the option to their councils and boards during its meeting June 12.

Rockdale City Manager Chris Whitaker, Thorndale City Secretary Staci Irwin and Thorndale ISD’s LouAnn Rubio spoke during citizen’s comments about the projected cost of the equipment and the strain that would put on their budgets.

“We would like some time to adjust to the cost and we would like some time to digest the impact to our small city,” Irwin said. 

County Judge David Barkemeyer said that in order to get the voting machines in time for the November election an order needs to be placed soon. 

“We need to have the stuff here so there is time to train our people on how to use the equipment with some experience using it before next March’s primary election,” Barkemeyer said.

Barkemeyer said the county plans to finance the county’s portion of the cost for the voting machines with a 20-year type loan like the county is using for the new building in Thorndale.

“The reason we are looking at financing is because we will pay off our bonds on the law enforcement center in 2023,” he said. “The annual payments on that are $600,000 a year. Payments would b $2,000 a month, which is workable. Then we can pay off the balloon sum after those bonds are paid off.”

Commissioner Jeff Muegge asked if there could be a special meeting called for next week in order to give the cities and school districts time to talk it over and asked if there is a possibility of the cities and school districts still using the current equipment if the county upgrades.

County Clerk Barbara Vansa said in order for the other entities to keep using their current equipment they would have to work an agreement out with another county that is using the current equipment.

The cost to Cameron and Rockdale will be about $30,000 to update the machines.

The county’s cost for the new equipment will be $382,000. The new equipment should arrive in August if the contract is signed by the end of June.

Commissioners tabled the issue and will set a special meeting next week to vote on the topic.

In other business, commissioners also:

- Approved the purchase of a dozer through Buy Board for Precinct 1 for $68,000. Commissioner Opey Watkins said he will use reserve funds for the purchase.

- Accepted a certificate of completion for Jennifer Northcott in records management.

- Approved an Interlocal agreement with Falls County to house and care overflow inmates from Milam County.

- Approved the bylaws of the Milam County CPS Board.

- Approved Private Roads 4074 and 3590.

- Heard a report from Ken Janicek on the 2016 VA expenditures in the county.

- Heard county resident Richard Sanders speak to commissioners during citizen’s comments about a grievance submitted to the District Attorney’s office about Precinct 2 Commissioner Donald Shuffield. Sanders asked for the removal of Shuffield from office during the court’s meeting two months ago during citizen’s comments. He said he has made three requests to the DA’s office to get an answer but has gotten none.

- Commissioner Muegge said the slab has been poured for the new building in Thorndale and they are working on framing the building.