Bowie County Judge Sterling Lacy has called for an emergency session of Commissioners Court at 3:30 this afternoon at Bowie County Courthouse in New Boston. ***UPDATE*** To comply with state guidelines, the session has been rescheduled for 4:45.
Due to the large jury pool entering the courthouse on Friday, August 1, 2014 and the starting of a highly publicized trial on Monday, August 4th, I am calling an emergency session of Bowie County Commissioners Court to provide for courthouse security.
Due to the erroneous numbers provided to Commissioners Court on Monday, July 28th, this urgent matter needs immediate deliberation by the court.
Apparently, fees that should have been allocated to courthouse security have been mistakenly allocated for security for outlying justice of the peace courts, and the fund has accumulated a balance of almost $300,000. Once the funds are moved to the right account, there will be an extra $200,000+ available for courthouse security. Under section 102.017 of the Texas Criminal Code, those funds can be used for salaries.
The bookkeeping error was discovered by Judge Lacy’s administrative assistant, Rachael Cherry, as she studied the relevant criminal code in preparation for last Monday’s session of Commissioners Court.
Sheriff Prince, to comply with the Court’s ruling to cut 15% from his payroll, had planned to reassign the deputy who currently mans the metal detector at the entrance to the courthouse to other duties in the county, replacing a deputy who had resigned.
If the Court allows it, the “new” money can be used to cover the salary of that deputy, and the Sheriff can hire a new replacement for the deputy who resigned.
On Monday, when it was believed that there was almost $300,000 available for outlying Justice of the Peace offices, Commissioners Court refused (in a 3-2 vote) Sheriff Prince’s request to use a portion of the funds to cover the salaries of two patrol deputies for one year, so it is unclear whether the Court will allow Judge Lacy’s request today to fund the deputy’s position in the courthouse.