Two agenda items concerned requests to move both offices from their current location in the juvenile probation building at 115 N. Market to the Karnes County Offices on the Square at 210 W. Calvert.
Before county officials discussed the items, Karnes County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Caroline Korzekwa spoke to the court concerning the items.
“It has always been my understanding that we are expected to stay within our budgets,” Korzekwa said. “And, if we spend more than $400 at any time, that we are supposed to come to Commissioners Court to get approval, even though it may be in our budgets, and I am just wondering, has that changed, or am I just sticking with an old rule?”
Korzekwa said that when the Karnes County Offices on the Square opened in October of 2011 there were offices in the building specifically set aside for both the county judge and the county attorney.
“At that time, both Mr. Busselman and Judge Shaw chose to move to this building (juvenile probation) instead,” Korzekwa said. “Now, only about 15 months later, and only two years into your first term, you are requesting another move. Why? Why now? You didn’t want to move to that building before. What’s changed?”
Korzekwa questioned whether the expenses incurred as a result of moving the offices were budgeted expenditures.
Mary Lozano was next to speak to the court, and also questioned whether the expenses were budgeted, and what those costs would be.
Commissioners Court then considered moving the county attorney’s office.
County Attorney Herb Hancock said the move is necessary in order to be closer to the county clerk and county sheriff’s offices.
“It’s the center of county government at this time and we would like to be there,” Hancock said. “That is our request.”
Hancock explained that his plan called for using three open offices in the building that are not being used at this time. He said that there would be no cost associated with the move of the county attorney’s office and staff.
County Judge Barbara Shaw joined the discussion saying that there were no costs with the first move and she didn’t expect any significant expenses with this move, either.
County Auditor Lajuana Kasprzyk said there would be expenses related to moving telephone service and moving computers for the offices.
“The hub of county government is the justice system,” Shaw said. “Herb and I are running back and forth between these buildings trying to establish this court... We can’t be in both places. It is not working.”
“It’s not costing anything,” Shaw said. “Actually (Commissioner) Pete (Jauer) and (Commissioner) Shelby (Dupnik) have both offered to bring flatbeds and move everything.”
County Commissioner Pete Jauer expressed support for moving the offices.
“Everyone seems to think that it can work out,” Jauer said.
Commissioner James Rosales questioned whether or not moving the offices was the best thing for everyone involved.
“I don’t really think from what I have been investigating that everyone is happy about the move – the citizens aren’t,” Rosales said. “Herb’s move is not really an issue, it is more about the judge’s move because ag extension has to be kicked out and moved somewhere else when they are already set in place. That’s the main issue that I have been hearing from all the people.”
Commissioner Shelby Dupnik expressed support for bringing the offices back to the center of county government.
“That building belongs to the people,” Dupnik said. “I thought it was the stupidest move that anybody ever made in their whole life was to move somebody – when you had a room allocated for the judge and the county attorney – I thought that was a waste of time and money to move somebody out of that office and put them away from everybody else.”
“This whole county has had a problem with everybody getting along,” Dupnik said. “When I got elected, the people I talked to said, if you do anything at all, try to find out or try to fix why people in the county government can not get along together.”
“The county government – we are here to serve the people, and if we can streamline the services for the people and put them in one place then I think that is what we should do,” Dupnik said.
Commissioner Jauer made a motion to approve moving the county attorney’s office which was seconded by Commissioner Tracey Schendel, the motion carried on a 5-0 vote.
Before considering the next agenda item to move the county judge’s office, Judge Shaw offered some explanation as to why her office chose not to move to the Karnes County Offices on the Square when the new building was completed.
Shaw said she initially wanted to move in to the new building but then an employee of the county ag extension office became upset when the different county offices began coordinating to move into the building.
Shaw said she didn’t have time to fight that battle at the time.
“It was not on the top of my list,” Shaw said. “It was not a priority.”
“But as much as Mr. Hancock and I are going to be having court, it is a priority – to be with the records, and to be able to do stuff. I am just asking to move over there to keep the continuity and functionality of county government.”
County Auditor Lajuana Kasprzyk reemphasized her concerns about the costs of moving the phone lines and computers.
“Those aren’t budgeted costs,” Kasprzyk said. “You don’t have fluff in the budget. Are you going to amend the budget and on what conditions? It is not an emergency.”
Kasprzyk began to express her concerns about co-mingling children with juvenile offenders, when the county judge cut her comments short.
“She could have talked at Citizens to be Heard, if that’s her opinion,” Shaw said, referring to Kasprzyk’s comment.
“But it involves money,” Kasprzyk said. “I asked that, and I wasn’t answered on the costs.”
“We are just trying to get over there so I can have court,” Shaw answered.
Commissioner Jauer made a motion to approve moving the county judge’s office. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Schendel.
The motion passed on a 4-1 vote with all voting in favor except Commissioner Rosales who voted against the motion.