The Brown County Commission approved a few changes to operations in hopes of bringing the county government up to continue receiving thousands in federal funds.

Brown County Judge Paul Lilly requested the commission approve hiring Rick Phelps as a part-time assistance so he can answer phones and other administrative duties in order to free up Lilly to hear criminal cases.

“Ms. Amy Briley (Brown County court coordinator) and I have consulted and we have the honor to tell you we made an offer to no one other than Rick Phelps,” Lilly said. “Rick has agreed to come to work for us for 8 to 10 hours a week and we would present it to the court to set his part-time salary to the part-time payment plan, which was ($10.58].”

Along with his position as president of the Early Chamber of Commerce, Phelps is a consistent volunteer for various area organizations throughout Brown County. He had been employed at KOXE until announcing his departure from the station last week. With Lilly planning to hear criminal cases to overcome a backlog of cases potentially threatening federal funding to the county, Lilly said bringing on an extra hand is vital.

“He’s going to be an assistant coordinator. We’re about to begin operating a third full-time court,” Lilly said. “He is going to be helping with processing the docket call and anything else Brown County assigns him to do … Right now, we’re not in compliance with federal regulations regarding how expeditiously we operate our judicial system. We’re below the 90 percentile required and if we do not get that above 90 percent by August 1st, then we lose all our federal and state grant funding – all of it, every penny.”

Citing the absence of Precinct 1 Commissioner Gary Worley and needing more time to review the issue, Preinct 4 Commissioner Larry Traweek requested the commission hold off on hiring Phelps and represented the lone dissenting vote.

“As far as answering the phone [David Creed, emergency management director] or [Bob Contreras, public information officer/grant writer] can answer phones,” Traweek said.

Another change coming to the Brown County Commission is the inclusion of a consent agenda, which allows commissioners to approve routine items in one sweeping vote as opposed to individually bringing them up for vote. The Brownwood City Council, Early City Council and Bangs City Council each use a consent agenda, but Precinct 2 Commissioner Joel Kelton had reservations regarding implementation of a consent agenda because in the past he saw items that required discussion receiving none because they were listed in the consent agenda.

“I’ve had problems in the past with the consent agenda where they bundled some stuff together they know you’ll vote against. They put it in there anyway so you have to go forward item by item in the consent agenda,” Kelton said.

Commissioners also:

Unanimously approved a request from James Masters with the Veterans Affairs Office to declare two printers surplus and disposable because they have no value. Unanimously approved hiring Leslie Redburn for a county administrative position. Received a report from Brown County Auditor Jennifer D. Robison.