When Marion County Judge Leward LaFleur suggested last month the Texas Historical Commission should have spoon-fed commissioners their responsibilities relating to restoration of the Courthouse, the rookie judge failed to grasp the situation.
“This is on the back of Texas Historical Commission,” LaFleur said at the November 14 meeting when the court discovered they needed to pay an additional $300,000. “They should have sat you guys down every time you put in an application for this Courthouse restoration project. And said this is what you are paying for and this is what we are not paying for. You are responsible for this and the grant should be responsible for this.”
Auditor Shanna Solomon said, however, the county and THC had plenty of discussions.
“I don’t remember (how many meetings she attended),” Solomon said. “We had the initial kick off meeting after it was awarded. We have meetings every two weeks now. Prior to the award there were numerous telephone conversations, meetings, etc. that I was not involved in.”
The Funding Agreement signed by the county with THC makes clear what the county will be expected to fund. Paying for communication and data wiring is the county’s responsibility.
What shocked commissioners was the $18,551 budget for stringing that wire was just blown out of the water.
Judge LaFleur’s juvenile attempt to shift blame to the THC would be humorous if the county did not have to keep writing checks to cover their lack of capacity to govern this situation. Does the judge expect the car dealer who sold him that new Range Rover to explain the financing to him again a year later?
Marion commissioners made a deal to refurbish the courthouse with outside funding from the Texas Historical Commission. Marion County was expected to pay the remaining balance from county tax dollars.
Commissioner J.R. Ashley expressed surprise the overrun reached six figures. What will it be next time? Do we hear seven?
Apparently, commissioners have failed at acting as their own construction supervisor and the judge lacks the proper experience. All of them had to be told that low-voltage communication and data wire did not require conduit.
A competent, experienced construction supervisor might be one answer, unless he’s just another one of the good ol’ boys looking for a check to cash. There’s $104,000 in the budget for construction supervision. Do you think it is time to use it?