orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

October 30, 2013

Unfilled job fuels fears of more cuts

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — No calls or complaints will be accepted at the County Judge’s office.

The opening of a custodial position in the county will remained unfilled at this time as Orange County Commissioners denied a request to fill the position in the Maintenance Department. The position opened after a resignation.

The Orange County Maintenance Department has had as many as eight full-time custodians at one time.

“No body on my crew has a lot of time other than to do their job,” Mark Wimberley, director of maintenance department, said during an interview Tuesday. “We have already had to let some things go when someone is out. Departments will empty their trash to help us out, but no one is going to clean and sanitize the bathrooms for us.”

Wimberly also said that his department has not had an increase in personnel in the last 10-15 years until earlier this year for a custodial position for the Orange County Convention and Expo Center, 11475 State Hwy. 1442 in Orange.

Commissioner Pct. 3 John Banken said he is opposed to laying off people or cutting salaries during the Monday Commissioners Court meeting.

“We have to start somewhere,” Banken said. “If someone quits it is an opportunity to cut the budget.”

Banken also said that the budget issues will need to be corrected over the next few years.

“The deficit did not happen overnight,” Banken said. “We have to start now to avoid the budget crunch.”

The court began the new fiscal year with a $4 million loan.

Thibodeaux said in a meeting in September, the funds would be used to operate the county until the taxes started coming in during January.

Commissioner Pct. 4 Jody Crump said that the court was looking for more time but would not dictate how to run a department.

“We are not here to micro-manage each department,” Crump said.

County Judge Carl Thibodeaux asked the court if each department would be treated the same as the Sheriff Office currently had an opening and there would be an opening in another department as well.

Sheriff Keith Merritt asked if the request should be added to the agenda.

“I have one opening now and two more coming,” Merritt said. “Should we still put it in the agenda?”

Banken said the requests should still be placed on the agenda.

“We have to make tough decisions,” Banken said. “That is what we were elected to do. We must do something to cut costs and expenditures.”

The custodial position cleans six-eight county buildings within the Vidor area including the courthouse, adult probation and the buildings connected with the Raymond Gould Community Center.