Aransas County commissioners, at their regular meeting Monday, April 27, tabled approving an additional employee in the County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office at group/step 12-1 ($14.99/hr.).

Commissioner Jack Chaney opened discussion noting the county has hired a floating position (an employee who can fill in during times of need in any department).

“I don’t see this as a long term position,” said Chaney. “This (need) looks like it can be covered (by the floating employee).

Tax Assessor-Collector Jeri Cox disagreed, noting the position is long-term, due to another unfunded mandate passed down from the state.

The agenda noted the new position is necessary in order to assist workload when the tax-assessor collector’s office re-opens for in-person transactions, because of new state laws and Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) procedures currently being implemented regarding issuance of license plates for off-highway vehicles and golf carts, additional monitoring required to identify and combat fraud, waste, and abuse, and having the webDEALER program in place by Sept. 1.

Cox said the additional employee is also needed to help with supplement reports as the Aransas County Appraisal District reports changes in property values.

Commissioner Charles Smith asked if the county will receive additional revenue for licensing golf carts, etc.

“We only receive a very small fee,” said Cox.

She also noted working with the new webDEALER program will be a fulltime job in and of itself.

“This isn’t COVID-19 related, correct?” asked Chaney.

Cox said the need for an additional employee is not due to the virus, but added, “We’re going to get slammed once the doors open.”

Cox said there is no money in her budget for the position through December (end of fiscal year).

She said it will cost a little more than $17,000 to fund the position for the remainder of this budget year, which is the calendar year. Cox said the position will cost a little more than $31,000 for a full year.

Smith questioned if those amounts included benefits.

Interim Auditor Jacky Cockerham said she did not provide the numbers to Cox, but noted the numbers Cox presented do not include benefits. Cockerham said Cox has realized savings in other areas of her budget, which could be used to help fund the position; otherwise, it will come from the county’s fund balance.

Smith suggested tabling the matter until such time firm figures can be obtained showing actual total expense for hiring the new employee for the remainder of this year.

“Is there anything we can do to spread out the workload (due to the backlog caused by COVID-19)?” asked Smith.

Cox said when the threat is gone, there will be a 60-day grace period before her department’s work has to be completed.

“We are receiving mail payments during this time, which is good,” she said.

Cox noted she was delaying asking for the new position, and then the virus and subsequent closures began.

“All of these (new requirements) came out of the last legislative session,” said Cox.

The court then unanimously approved tabling the decision about hiring a new employee.

Smith asked Cox to provide the cost figures, as well as workload data to help commissioners’ make their decision.

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