(Orange, Texas)

August 28, 2013

County commissioners discuss personnel for convention and expo center

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Orange County Commissioners are one step closer to hiring a person to manage the rental side of the Orange County Convention and Expo Center.

The discussion concerning creating a department to manage the center almost failed due to the lack of a motion.

County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said a decision needed to be made concerning if an individual would be hired or if the responsibilities would be assigned to a department within the county.

“We had an excellent event out there last week. There were 300-400 present,” Thibodeaux said. “We have had 40 inquiries already about renting. The Orange County EDC has been taking a list.”

Thibodeaux also said the HOTEL/MOTEL tax funds could be used to hire an individual.

Commissioner Pct. 2 Owen Burton said he was concerned only a single individual was being considered.

“We are talking about a lot of hours,” Burton said. “They would be there during the day and then at night and weekends.”

Executive Director Orange County Economic Development Corporation Bobby Fillyaw said a person at the AgriLife office could be cross-trained for phone calls and reservations.

Thibodeaux said the departmental use would have to be minimal as the county employees were hired to do their jobs.

“They cannot take advantage of another department,” Thibodeaux said.

Fillyaw said that more HOTEL/MOTEL tax funds could be added later if a second person was warranted.

“But let’s crawl before we run,” Fillyaw said.

Commissioner Pct. 3 John Banken asked if the funds would also include benefits and car expenditures.

Fillyaw said the funds would cover salary and all expenditures.

Mark Wimberley, maintenance department director, said there was no in-house coordination at the present time when the County Judge said there would be no action due to a lack of a motion.

“We really need a person to track expenses that can be recouped,” Wimberley said. “We took all this effort to put it together to have it fall apart? AgriLife agreed to help as part of the stipulations for the grant.”

AgriLife has an office opened for the position.

County Extension Agent Marie Kenney said it was their understanding from the beginning the department was expected to house an office and take phone calls.

The commissioners approved hiring a person with the tax funds to be housed in the AgriLife office.

The person would report to the court.

The job description and advertising for the position is expected to be discussed at the Tuesday, Sept. 3 meeting.

Banken said he is against hiring a person.

Commissioner Pct. 4 Jody Crump was not present at the Monday afternoon meeting due to an illness.

Other county business included Director of Emergency Management Jeff Kelley updating the court on the departments move to the convention and Expo center.

“We are largely operational,” Kelley said. “We are already doing better than at the AT&T building.”

The court also approved the county clerk and district clerk to raise records archive fees from $5 to $10 effective Oct. 1, 2013 per HB 1513 recently passed in legislation. HB 1513 is in relation to temporary increases in the records archive fees and the records management and preservation fees charged by district and county clerks.