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County considers budget, improvements

The Hockley County Commissioners met Monday and Tuesday to discuss the preliminary budgets for several departments.
Among the discussion was for new tabulation hardware at the Hockley County Elections Office. 
“Ours are extremely old and difficult to use,” said Sharla Baldridge, county judge. “A lot of people won’t use them.”
The proposal reviewed by the commissioners was for $81,177 without financing and $86,747 with financing.
Judge Baldridge said Cheryl Smart, election administrator, was proposing the county purchase 20 of the machines for the price total price listed.
Larry Carter, commissioner for Precinct 2, asked whether entities that utilize the elections office would need to share in the cost.
“Can we pass along any of the cost to the agencies that would be using them?” Carter asked.
Judge Baldridge said they would need to review the interlocal agreements approved between each entity.
She also pointed out the purchase would save the county on maintenance costs of the machines. The new machines only require maintenance every 24 months, or every other year.
In 2016, the county paid $11,004 for maintenance on the machines. Judge Baldridge said maintenance on the new system would cost around $6,500 every two years.
In the maintenance budget request was for a new heating and air conditioning system. Judge Baldridge said though it’s a costly expense, it is necessary.
“The system we have here is over 40 years old,” Judge Baldridge said. “We shouldn’t throw money at a system that is antiquated.”
She also pointed out there may not be anyone to work on the system in the future as there is only one person who can right now.
Carter said since the building is old, the county would be better off hiring a mechanical engineer to plan the new system to fit the specifications of the building.

Read the full story in the Wednesday edition of the News-Press.

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