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New archiving fee proposed for county clerk's office

By Brian Cuaron
Aug. 9, 2011 at 3:09 a.m.


ELECTRON DOCUMENTING

Robert Cortez proposed that Victoria County buy software to help it with its electronic commissioners court packets and minutes.

Since the court's refurbished courtroom included computers, it has used electronic packets instead of print ones. However, County Judge Don Pozzi's office and Cortez's office spend 20 hours each preparing the packets and minutes, Cortez said.

In fact, the documents get scanned twice: Once by the judge's office and then by Cortez's clerk, he said. Signed documents need to be re-scanned and the documents need to be put into the county's records software.

The Agenda Link software would allow departments to upload the documents themselves, Cortez said. It would cost $36,334.

Those filing documents at the Victoria County clerk's office may soon see a new fee on their receipts.

The $5 archive fee would help preserve and restore old records, said Robert Cortez, county clerk. He estimated the fee would yearly bring in $63,455 to the county's coffers based on filings in 2010.

Cortez brought up the fee to the commissioners court on Tuesday in a budget workshop. Department heads addressed items not included in the proposed 2012 budget, and items not funded to the extent they wanted.

Cortez later said a majority of counties have implemented the fee since the legislature approved it. He described some of the records as so fragile they fall apart once touched.

The fee would pay for a new deputy clerk to oversee the preservation process.

But Cortez got challenged on the issue.

Commissioner Precinct 2 Kevin Janak called the fee a tax. He later said it wouldn't go to the county but toward the clerk's office fund.

Cortez said the fee could be voted on by the court when the budget is finalized.

Those filing or searching for county records may one day be able to do so from home. Cortez is proposing installing a Manatron software which would cost $41,289, then $8,261 annually for support.

County Judge Don Pozzi said it was suggested Cortez purchase the program through his records management fund, which comes from fees.

That fund pays for some office salaries, Cortez later said.

Pozzi suggested the sheriff's office's auto fuel and oil fund be raised to $250,000, $25,000 more than his original proposal. It would match the fund's allocation this year.

Pozzi proposed adding $25,000 to the sheriff's office furniture and equipment fund. The office hasn't received equipment line item funding for two years, said Terry Simons, chief deputy.

Simons told the court that the price of ammunition was as unsteady as gas prices. Pozzi afterward said the court would look over the $20,000 allocation for law enforcement supplies.

One dollar salary increases for election workers were proposed by George Matthews, county election administrator. He proposed election judges be paid $9 an hour and election clerks get $8.50.

Salaries for about 130 election workers during the 2012 November elections would cost $38,000, Matthews said.

He also requested $5,000 to pay for a clerk to handle early voting by mail for 2012.

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