Rising costs prompted members of the Ellis County SPCA to seek an increase in its contract for animal services at Tuesday's Ellis County Commissioner's court meeting.

Addressing the court were Ellis County SPCA Executive Director Joan McGrath and Board Co-President Nancy Carter.

“We are here following up on a rate increase that we made in early May for our contract between the SPCA and Ellis County. We have not had a rate increase since 2013,” McGrath said. “Currently our rate is $50 per animal and with other bills such as salaries, utilities, and the building it is costing us about $90 per animal. That is one of the reasons that we are asking for the rate increase for the contract.”

McGrath explained that any animal that is brought to the shelter are held for a minimum of three to five days to allow their owner to claim them.

“I think the expenses increase is across the board. Our insurance costs have gone up over the last few years. We have had a few repairs on the building, which was built in 2004,” McGrath stated. “A lot of expenses are things that don’t have to do with the animals.”

Carter shared McGrath’s thoughts about the need for an increase to the contract due to the rising expenses the shelter is incurring. She noted that the SPCA couldn’t pay its workers cheaply because there need to be responsible people taking care of the animals to ensure their health and well-being.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Paul Perry stated while the court could not act on the item today but it can be placed on the budget at a future meeting for a possible budget amendment.

County Emergency Management Coordinator Stephanie Parker addressed the court about the purchase of radios for emergency responders.

“We received a grant in 2012-2013 for the purchase of a whole bunch of radios. It did a great job of keeping us going for a long time. As we did an inventory this year we found a whole lot of empty boxes. So as we have bought new vehicles and have added new personnel we just don’t have any radios for them,” Parker said. “I am asking to purchase around 20 hand held radios and mobile radios. This will take care of the fire marshal’s office, emergency management, the constables and sheriff’s office up to this date. It will take care of what we have right now. It will not take care of the future.”

Parker suggested that moving forward that each individual department should handle its own needs for radios and possibly implement a radio replacement program. She added that emergency management would keep track of the radios purchased through grants.

Commissioners approved the request for the purchase of radios not to exceed $25,000.

Sheriff’s Office Capt. Chris Hamilton presented a request for a resolution for the county to apply to the BG18 Rifle Resistant Body Armor Grant Program.

“The governor’s office criminal justice division put out a grant notice July 12 for the funding of rifle resistant body armor for law enforcement officers,” Hamilton said. “I am requesting a resolution to act on that as the grant writer for the county. This will be done on behalf of the county for all county law enforcement.”

According to Gov. Greg Abbott’s website, during the 85th legislative session, Abbott signed Senate Bill 12, which funds a $25 million statewide grant program. This program is designed to provide personal body armor to law enforcement officers across the state. Funds may be used only by eligible law enforcement agencies to equip eligible officers with bullet-resistant personal body armor compliant with the National Institute of Justice standard for rifle protection.

Commissioners approved the resolution to allow Hamilton to apply for the grant program.

In other business the court,

• Approved an inter local cooperation agreement between the county and the City of Grand Prairie for floodplain development permits in the Grand Prairie’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.

• Denied a request for a one-time variance from the county rules, regulations, and specifications for subdivisions and manufactured homes to waive the performance and maintenance bond requirements and to waive the road fees for the construction of a private street located at the intersection of Elk Trail and Squirrel Road in the ETJ of the City of Grand Prairie.

• Approved a request for a one time from the county rules, regulations, and specifications for subdivisions and manufactured homes to allow the construction of property without meeting the minimum fire hydrant requirements. The property is located between Feaster Road and Old Maloney Road in Waxahachie.

• Approved a replat of one lot into two lots located between Fester Road and Old Maloney Road in Waxahachie.

• Approved an abandonment of an alleyway located between Lewis Avenue and Ruby Avenue south of Skyline Drive in the ETJ of the City of Midlothian.

• Rescinded an approval of a request to amend the county rules, regulations, and specifications for subdivisions and manufactured homes that is related to lot and street layout to modify the minimum set back requirement.

• Approved for County Judge Carol Bush to sign a lease agreement from Holt Cat for Road and Bridge Precinct 2 for a lease extension for a 140M Cat Motor Grader.

• Approved to declare a CP142 pneumatic roller as surplus.

• Approved for Bush to sign a one-year agreement with SK Septic Service for the Ellis County Juvenile Services for aerobic septic system inspections.

• Approved for Bush to sign a Xerox lease agreements for the 443rd Judicial District Court with monthly payments of $113.71 and $278.70.

• Took no action to enact a burn ban for the county.

• Approved inter local cooperative contract between the county and the City of Garrett starting on Sept. 12 – Dec. 17.

• Approved a work order for the City of Palmer for street work totaling $113,884.16.Streets included in this work order are Meadowlark, Joy, Craig, Bluebonnet, Kinsla, West Cooper, West Canton, West and East Denton, East Cooper, Lucy, and Suzanne.

• Approved a resolution in support of Meals-on-Wheels of Johnson and Ellis County applying for a grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture Home-delivered Meal grant program.

• Approved a cooperation agreement between the county and the Ennis Garden Club from 0ct. 1 – Sept. 30, 2018.

• Approved a work order between the county and the Ennis Garden Club for the placement of directional signs provided by the club for the annual Bluebonnet Trail event.

• Approved an inter local agreements between the county the school districts of Avalon, Ennis and the cities of Ennis, Bardwell and Alma.

• Heard a report from Human Resources Director Theresa Taylor on compensatory time.

• Renewed the Texas Associations of Counties workers’ compensation program.

• Accepted the reimbursement and repairs for road damages from the construction of the Tarrant Regional Water District's integrated pipeline project.

• Approved an inter local agreement for enforcement of the county fire code between the county and the City of Italy.

• Approved to authorize Bush to sign an addendum to extend an inter local agreement with the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

• Approved a renewal of an inter local agreement between the county and Lubbock County acting through the regional public defender for capital cases.

• Approved the Ellis County and District Attorney’s Office to donate $4,500 to the Texas District and County Attorneys Association Foundation from its asset forfeiture funds.