County Auditor Janet Martin presented Erath County commissioners with a check for $66,507 Tuesday - a refund from the Texas Association of Counties, a distribution of pool earnings for the fiscal year 2012.
"This refund usually comes in the form of a credit towards the county's health insurance," Martin told commissioners. "However, this year we received a check and I'm recommending the court make a budget amendment in the 2013 budget."
She advised the commissioners to approve the amendment and specify the funds to be used towards reducing health insurance costs.
Commissioners also considered approving the change in speed limit on County Road 437, which runs from US 377 north to FM 205, just east of Stephenville. Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe Brown said recent improvements to the road, including widened lanes and paved shoulders, have caused drivers to increase their speed. He also advised residents of the road presented a petition for the speed limit to be 35 mph. However, the sheriff's department was consulted and recommended the posted speed to be set at 45 mph. Commissioners approved the 45 mph speed limit change.
Philip Wischkaemper of the Regional Public Defender Office for Capital Cases addressed the court regarding capital cases tried by the county. He advised his office was like trial insurance for participating counties.
County Judge Tab Thompson said the cost of capital cases is "tremendously expensive."
Wischkaemper said they provide two attorneys, an investigator, a mitigation specialist, a fact investigator and other defense costs for one defendant. He advised the organization does not cover co-defendants, or all costs for a single defendant, but said the help they provide has saved participating counties money.
The organization is completely funded by the participating counties and the cost to participate reduces if the participating county has fewer than the projected amount of capital cases. The commissioners will take some time to consider participating and will be in touch with Wischkaemper, Thompson said.
Court members heard from Steve Cole, Erath County EMS Director and Fire Marshal, who advised he budgeted for the purchase of a new ambulance, including the trade-in of the current Medic 1 unit. Cole told commissioners the new unit would be similar to Medic 3 and would be "ready to roll" upon purchase. He estimated the cost for the new unit would be in the low $150,000s. The court gave Cole permission to go out for bids on a new unit with the funds in his budget, including the Medic 1 trade-in.