Court OKs next steps in software overhaul

Ellis County Commissioners proceed in effort to modernize public safety computer systems

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
The Ellis County Historic Courthouse in Waxahachie.

The next steps in replacing outdated software for the Sheriff’s Office and courts were taken on Tuesday as the Ellis County Commissioners’ Court moved forward with a plan to modernize the county’s public safety systems.

The court approved an engagement agreement with the Berry Dunn consulting firm for the next three phases of the replacement of the justice and public safety systems software and related services in an amount of $167,100. The county retained Berry Dunn last month to perform a needs assessment.

The three phases consist of RFP development, proposal evaluations and contract negotiations. County purchasing agent E.J. Harbin said these will include court case management systems, prosecution case management systems, computer-aided dispatch and records management systems, and jail management systems for the county.

Tony Tull, a Berry Dunn senior consultant, told commissioners his firm will prepare four RFPs, or requests for proposals, for each of those four departments. All submitted bids will be evaluated and scored, and those that score highest will be presented for consideration. Once final winners are chosen, Berry Dunn will assist in contract negotiations, Tull said.

Tull said it would likely be around Feb. 1 before contracts are ready to be awarded. Tull recommended concentrating on the Sheriff’s Office first because that office feeds the prosecution, which feeds the court, which feeds the county clerk in turn.

County Judge Todd Little said time is of the essence in implementing the changes. “I know there are people that are waiting,” Little said. “Vendors are waiting and staff are waiting. We need to get this going.”

The item passed 3-0, with Precinct 2 Commissioner Lane Grayson absent because of a previously-scheduled speaking engagement.

Other items

• Consent agenda approvals included previous meeting minutes, acceptance of reports, a donation of 139 reading books from Daughters of the American Revolution, acceptance of continuing education hours for the county purchasing office, and several budgetary line-item transfers.

• The court approved five plats: a 38.86-acre property on the south side of FM 1181 near Ennis, a 17.812-acre property on the south side of Goodwyn Road near Avalon, a 18.113-acre property at the northwest corner of FM 157 and Ozro Road near Maypearl, a 1.011-acre lot on the south side of Patrick Road in Waxahachie’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, and a 16.94-acre tract on the southwest corner of Old Maypearl Road and North Falling Leaves Drive in rural Waxahachie. Commissioners also agreed to release a performance bond and accept a maintenance bond for the latter property.

• The court approved the transfer of a 2014 Ford Escort from Indigent Health Services to the Tax Office.

• Road materials were prominent on the agenda. Commissioners agreed to solicit bids for aggregate and for hot-mix asphalt for all four precincts. Bids were accepted for a wide variety of materials including asphalt, concrete, limestone, gravel and rip rap. A number of secondary and tertiary vendors were selected because of supply chain concerns. Separate bids for crushed limestone and washed pea gravel were rejected and the county will re-bid these contracts.

• Commissioners authorized an endorsement letter seeking state economic impact funds for “The Largest Funny Car Race in the World” at Texas Motorplex.

• A “struck off” property was deeded over to the city of Midlothian. The transaction will allow Midlothian to expand its water treatment plant. Midlothian ISD, which holds a stake in the same property, is expected to do the same at its December monthly meeting.

• The donation to Ellis County of a 3.2786-acre property at 200 Interstate 45 in Ennis was approved. The appraised value of the property is $435,000. The property adjoins the Ellis County Sub-Courthouse in Ennis and will be developed to allow access from the I-45 access road.

• Commissioners voted to assign all 837 of its votes to Ken Marks for the Ellis Appraisal District board of directors. The total guarantees that Marks will continue on the board.

• Sidney Atchley was approved as the new Texas A&M AgriLife Extension 4-H agent for Ellis County.