By Lynda Jones
Houston County spent $2,194,169.03 on county roads and bridges in all four precincts during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2015, according to the Texas County Lateral Road and Bridge Expendiures Yearly Report submitted by County Auditor Melissa Mosley.
Mosley explained during the Tuesday, Jan. 26, Houston County Commissioners Court meeting, that the report must be submitted to the state each year and is a composite of the expenditures made in all four county precincts.
She further explained the report only addresses funds designated exclusively for road and bridge projects. Those funds include monies from automobile registration fees, timber funds, fine money that comes through the court system. It does not include projects funded in other ways, such as FEMA grants. Those funds are tracked and reported in a different way, Mosley explained.
The report indicates the following expenditures: County Road Maintenance, $763,849.36; County Road Rehabilitation, $330,898.82; County Bridge Maintenance, $62,302.23; County Bridge Rehabilitation, $2,207.50; Right of Way Acquisition, $268.10; and Other Road Expenditures, $1,034,643.02. No expenditures were made on new construction of roads or bridges.
Mosley also reported she compiled an additional report showing a history of road and bridge expenditures over the past 20 years.
That report indicates the county spent $982,332.13 on its roads and bridges in 1995, compared to the $2,193,900.93 spent in 2015. The county first jumped over the $1 million expenditure mark in 1997, when the expenditures totaled $1,147,587.35.
The commissioners unanimously voted to accept the 2015 report as information.
In other business, the commissioners unanimously voted to approve a contract with Records Consultants, Inc. to upgrade the county's inventory management system with software that will allow the county auditor to create fixed asset depreciation reports.
Prior to the vote, Mosley told commissioners, "As you know, our outside auditor has been concerned about our inventory process. This is what our next step in that process."
Next she introduced Dan Gibbons, president and CEO of Records Consultants, Inc. Gibbons explained his San Antonio-based company works exclusively with government entities.
In a brief presentation before the court, Gibbons said , "This is a program we provide to counties like yourself to get a handle on your fixed assets. By rule, local government entities have to maintain their fixed assets on their balance sheet, their depreciated value. A fixed asset is in excess of $500 or more...."
He continued, "We developed software for our guys to come and complete inventory of every asset in the county, including technology that might be less than $500 and has a useful life of at least a year and sometimes might get misplaced. What we do is we come in and go through every facility in the county. We'll barcode the door going into that. We'll scan that in, name the room, and we'll tag every fixed asset in the room. Then we'll go back to Melissa and capture the date it was purchased and the amount that was paid for it...so she can create those depreciation reports as the auditor."
Gibbons estimated the project in Houston County will take six to eight weeks for completion. The company then will deliver a software program that runs on the network, allows the county maintain the inventory and commissioners will have access to see their fixed assets.
He further stated the Records Consultants employees completing the initial inventory have gone through drug screening, fingerprints, etc. Background checks are done annually on their employees, Gibbons said.
Mosley reminded commissioners the county already has policy requiring every asset valued at $500 or more be placed on inventory, as well everything with a serial number. This program will allow the auditor's office to create the depreciation reports.
The cost of the project will be $6,700. The county will pay $2,600 to begin the project and the balance when the project is complete.