County hires new auditor: Billy Doherty takes over on Jan. 1

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County Auditor Betty Jez sat in on her last Austin County Commissioners Court meeting on Monday, Dec. 28, as she had previously announced her plan to retire at the end of November.

Effective Jan. 1, the county will have a new auditor, Billy Doherty, as Jez steps away from employment after 33 years with Austin County.

In a swift and finalizing agenda item authorizing the change to county signature cards, stamping power switched hands from Jez to Doherty.

Also at the meeting, commissioners authorized seven properties for resale acquired through tax foreclosure. Leslie Schkade, delinquency tax attorney for the county, told the court all of the properties have gone through the initial tax sale proceedings at least once.

“There was no bidder at the initial tax sale. … So they are just sitting in the tax trust,” Schkade said.

Letters will be sent to adjoining landowners and notification will also be published in all the local newspapers announcing the resale, Schkade said.

Commissioners also approved a change in utility easement requirements and a preliminary plat for Glostershire, a future community to be built in the Sealy area off FM 1458 and Mixville Road.

The first item sought to reduce required 20-foot and 15-foot utility easements down to 14 feet, since that is all CenterPoint Energy needs. It passed in a 3-1 vote.

The preliminary platting plans were sent back to Jones and Carter, Inc. and Wilson Engineering Company, PLLC, in a Dec. 14 meeting when firm representatives said some sections might possibly require adjustments changing the scope of the original community layout.

Pct. 1 Commissioner Reese Turner, who was opposed to some of the community’s plans during the court’s last meeting, stuck to his script.

Turner issued a nay vote on the utility easements because he did not want to set a new standard for required county regulations with future developers.

“I will be very honest, I’m going to vote against approving this (utility easement) anyway because I’m adamantly opposed to aerobic septic systems in this kind of concentration,” Turner said.

At the last meeting, Turner vehemently opposed the use of aerobic septic systems calling them disgusting. The systems spray waste matter onto the ground using spray heads, but chlorine in the system disinfects the effluent before it is dispersed.

Turner said he is looking toward growth for the county in a responsible way.

“It (Austin County) should grow in a controlled and organized way like Katy,” he said.

If disorderly growth is allowed and systematic variation regulations aren’t upheld, Turner warned that the commissioners would take Austin County down the road to a trailer house county.

Pct. 4 Commissioner Doug King said land developers are in compliance with current county regulations.

“If they weren’t, then we would have a problem. The 14-foot is what’s required by the local power company in that area,” King said.

Commissioners would have to go back to the county regulation book if they want to implement more exact measurements, but that takes actions that will not be applicable in Glostershire’s case.

The court also approved the commissioner appointments for emergency service districts one, two and three for two-year terms. District One commissioners are Joey Pekar, Vivian Williams and Ray Chislett. District Two commissioners are Charles Verm, James Toman and Beverly Koym. District Three commissioners are Debbie Heckmann, John Alford and Dennis Diggs.

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