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Chevron Reinvestment Zone approved by Court

By Michael Cole

The Orange Leader

 

Commissioners discussed everything from position reclassifications to recycling and pay schedules for county elected officials on Tuesday.

To avoid the confusion of elected officials pay increases from a couple of years ago, Orange County Judge John Gothia suggested an across the board raise of 2-percent for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2019.

“If anyone was here three years ago, it was decided that if we had raises, everyone got raises,” County Judge John Gothia said. “Not just certain groups. Everyone got raises.”

The new pay scale is available on the county website. The pay increase is approved; however, it is pending waiting on the adoption of the new budget in September.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Robert Viator, Jr. cast the only no vote for the pay increase. He did not state why he voted against the pay increase.

Commissioner Pct. 1 Johnny Trahan brought up a recycling program brought to him by Keep Orange County Beautiful. The program needs 200 people to sign up for the program for it to start.

“It is a Utah based company that if we get enough people, 200 people, they will come in,” Commissioner Precinct 1 Johnny Trahan said. “If it works it will save the county money at the landfill.”

The program would cost $10 per person per month. The court approved spending up to $1,000 on exploring it.

A resident questioned how it could be a volunteer program if it costs $10 a month.

Jennifer Hill of the Orange County EDC talked about the creation of a Chevron Phillips Reinvestment Zone. 

The Reinvestment Zone will create a zone for tax abatements and investment for Chevron Phillips. Under state law to offer abatements or other incentives for economic growth, they need to create a reinvestment zone.

Gothia added, “This is a big thing for Orange County. We definitely want to thank Chevron Phillips for their consideration of Orange County.”

Election Judges will be paid $12 an hour instead of $10 for future elections. The court unanimously approved the raise.

“Anyone that has gone down and seen what an Election Judge does, knows it’s a hard job,” Gothia remarked.

The county is receiving 10 new buses from South East Texas Regional Transit late September or early October. This will create 10 new part-time positions as drivers.

Since these buses will not require CDLs to operate, anyone can apply for the positions.

The buses, priced at over a million dollars, are free to the county through South East Regional Transit. The county, however, is responsible for paying the drivers.

To lower health insurance costs for the county, a Wellness Incentive Program has been continued. The plan involves an extra day off for every County Employee who completed an annual physical and biometric screening.

Viator said, “The goal of the incentive program is to get as many people getting the screening as possible.”

On talking about the benefits of this program, Gothia said, “To give you an idea, our premiums increased by $480,000. We had a net loss of 109-percent. That meant for what we paid in, the insurance company paid out 109-percent of the amount. Had we had a 100-percent, meaning they paid out as much as we paid in, the insurance would have cost us $118,000.” 

The court held three closed session meetings, and with no action taken on any.

You can watch the session on our Facebook page HERE