By Phillip Williams
Upshur County Commissioners Court recently approved changing to a different firm to print and mail property tax statements for the county’s taxing entities.
Commissioners approved County Tax Assessor-Collector Luana Howell’s request to switch from Peregrine Services to Master’s Touch, which she said believed it could save the county several thousand dollars. She said she had no problem with Peregrine, which “did a good job.”
The court approved giving Peregrine 30 days written notice it was terminating their contract. In a separate vote at the July 14 meeting in Gilmer, commissioners then approved contracting with Master’s Touch.
In other action, the court approved transferring $40,000 from general contingency funds to the budget for jail inmate food.
Sheriff Larry Webb told the court that food prices had risen about 8%, and his office would fall short on the amount originally budgeted for inmate meals. He indicated the $40,000 would suffice for the rest of the county fiscal year, ending Sept. 30.
Webb said the jail purchases its food from Sysco, but jail Lieutenant Vanessa Ferguson, who runs the facility, told the court she was checking on getting better pricing. Webb said Sysco has worked with his office “real well.”
Ferguson and Webb also showed the court a plastic-sealed actual sample inmate lunch on a black plastic tray. Webb, who said a meal costs $4.35, noted that federal and state regulations require serving certain foods.
The sheriff additionally pointed out that the jail has been serving produce from a garden which inmates grow behind the county Rock Building in Gilmer.
In another matter, the court effectively upheld its earlier decision to use Tyler Technologies for computer software after hearing from representatives of that firm, from Upshur County District Clerk Nicole Hernandez, and from a representative of Net Data, whose software the county has been using.
The court let its prior decision stand by not voting although Bill Moser of Net Data said his firm was developing a new product for county clerks and district clerks, and was trying to do so by the end of 2024.
A representative of Tyler Technologies countered that his firm served several area counties, and that Net Data’s product was “not installed anywhere.” Since “nobody’s had any experience with it,” using it would be “risky,” he argued.
Hernandez said Net Data’s programming was “archaic” when she worked as a deputy in her office in 2015 and “we’ve had nothing but trouble since.” (She has worked in the office part of the time since that year.) Advocating switching to Tyler Technologies, she said of Net Data’s forthcoming product, “I cannot trust something that doesn’t exist.”
By Phillip Williams