Brown County Judge Paul Lilly Brown and David Creed, the county’s emergency management coordinator and county fire marshal, responded to a commissioner’s questioning of Creed’s credentials and to a dispute over whether the county should pay a $1,000 state fee related to the fire marshal’s office.

“Of course (Creed) has (credentials),” Lilly said in response to Precinct 3 Commissioner Wayne Shaw’s comments Monday. Shaw said then that he has “questions” about Creed’s credentials to be fire marshal.

“I wouldn’t have appointed him to that position” if Creed didn’t have the credentials, Lilly said. “He’s a certified arson investigator. He’s a 40-plus-year law enforcement officer.”

Creed said he took an online course with the Training Division Fire Academy in Crawley and is credentialed with the Texas Commission on Fire Protection as a fire investigator. Creed said he is also an arson investigator because of his commission as a law enforcement officer.

“There shouldn’t be any credibility question to it,” Creed said. “There’s no credibility issue in it in my mind.”

At Monday’s commissioner’s court meeting, county auditor Jennifer Robison asked commissioners if they wanted to authorize payment of a $1,000 bill to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), a fee that’s part of Creed’s application to create a law enforcement agency. That agency would be the Brown County Fire Marshal’s Office.

Commissioners did not authorize the payment of that fee. Shaw noted that Lilly had told commissioners the county would not be out any money by appointing Creed as county fire marshal.

Lilly said he had told commissioners there would be no additional cost to the county. “He took on that role outside what was already budgeted,” Lilly said. “The (2018-’19) budget that was proposed to citizens, we had public hearings on, it was adopted, it was ratified — (Creed) is operating under that budget.”

Lilly said he will try to get the state to waive the $1,000 application fee, but if the can’t, Creed “has it in his existing budget that he pay for out of that. So it doesn’t cost us one additional cent.”

Lilly said having Creed as county fire marshal saves the county money, noting that in 2018, the county paid the city about $6,000 for Brownwood Fire Marshal Buddy Preston’s services in the county.

“So yes, it’s saving us money,” Lilly said. “Commissioner Shaw might have been just a little confused about the issue. I’m not putting words in his mouth. I have the highest respect for him. What I said was, ‘additional cost to the county.’

“It is all county money, but it is regularly budgeted and already approved funding. The emergency management coordinator and now (county) fire marshal works for me. He’s appointed by the county judge. So he is one of my employees, and if somebody has an issue with his credentials, they should come and ask me because I’m the one who appointed him.”

Shaw, reached by phone, said commissioners had been led to believe “no cost” related to Creed as county fire marshal.

Creed said his ability to work as county fire marshal is not impacted by commissioner’s refusal Monday to pay the $1,000 application fee. The advantage of having the fire marshal’s office as a law enforcement agency with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement: it “helps establish a level of apparent credibility with the public,” Creed said.

Being established as a TCOLE law enforcement agency “establishes professionalism,” Creed said. “They hold us to pretty strict standards.”

Creed said he’s confident he has met those standards lacks only the county’s approval to pay the $1,000 fee.