Major upgrades are planned for McMullen County’s water and wastewater infrastructure, as the commissioners court approved nearly a contract for nearly $659,000 with an Austin area construction firm.
Westar Construction of Pflugerville won the contract over five other bids, and the 120-day contract is for $658,894.58.
McMullen County Judge James Teal said the plan is for Westar to begin the work and, then 30 days later, the county will advertise for bids for roadwork. The plan is to make significant progress in local improvements before the school year ends. Work will begin on the northeast side of Tilden.
Lanny Lindsey of Westar, who will help oversee the project, said his company has a long track record of success and is looking forward to getting started.
“We have been doing this for 40-something years and we have done a lot of projects like this,” he said. “I think it will be a real asset to the community.”
Lindsey said he will serve as the project manager and point of contact for McMullen County, and “I’ll be here most of the time” that work is being done.
Teal said county leaders will schedule a meeting with community members to give them a better idea of what to expect. One of the major reasons for the project is to expand the water lines to help protect the community from disaster, he said.
“The reason we are doing this is for fire flow — if we need to put out a fire, the two-inch lines aren’t good enough for that,” Teal said. “They will be upsized to 6-inch lines.”
New salary structure approved
In other action, the commissioners court approved plans for a new salary structure that will reward long-time county employees.
“Whenever someone is hired they are brought in at the same salary as a multi-year employee,” Teal said. “This will give department heads a salary range they can operate in whenever they hire someone and also a way to have flexibility with rewarding longer tenured employees.”
The suggested schedule allows for an increase of $35 per month for employees with five to nine years experience, $70 to 10 to 15 years, $105 for 15 to 20 years, $140 for 20 to 25 years and $175 monthly for 25 or more years.
“It’s important to have something like this for our employees, Teal said. “The sheriff (Bubba Shelton) has done a good job with a range for his employees, and I wanted to expand this to other county employees as well.”
Teal said he would also like to see a similar range for county commissioners, but according to state law, that will have to wait until the next budget is adopted.
“This is a good start to be able to pay our employees based on experience,” said Pct. 4 Commissioner Max Quintanilla.
“It’s a great start but I don’t know that it’s the end all,” Teal said. “No matter what we do, we’ll never make everyone 100 percent happy but this gives department heads latitude to pay experienced people higher salaries.”