More funds sought for Ford Park concession stands

Published 10:49 am Wednesday, May 29, 2019

By Chris Moore


BEAUMONT — The Jefferson County Commissioners will seek Hotel Occupancy Tax Committee funds to pay an additional $72,000 to complete the contract for the Ford Park concession stands.

Commissioners hosted a workshop to discuss various capital construction projects Tuesday.

“We originally had about $375,000 the first time we went for bid,” Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said. “The lowest bid came in at $497,000. We put it off and got some money from ‘HOT Tax’ and contributions form Spectrum Vision Venue Management. We got up to the $480,000 number. Then, the bids came in higher than what we got now.”

Branick said the contractor identified $38,000 in change orders that would decrease costs, but that still left the county short $72,000.

Branick said the change in food service directors affected bids.

“The new guy pointed out some things that needed to be included,” Branick said. “There were some increases in costs. It was mostly kitchen equipment that was needed to adequately service the crowds that are out there.

“We want to make sure it runs smoothly. It is a nicer setup, but it is more expensive. That ballfield complex is the No. 1 generator of outside tourism in the whole county. We want them to have a good experience.”

The concession stands weren’t the only item on the commissioners’ wish list.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Brent Weaver said he wanted to change out the front doors at the Precinct 7 Justice of the Peace office at the cost of $2,500. Weaver also said he wanted to look into a drive-through at the tax office.

“I think the tax office was built in ’96,” Weaver said. “Obviously our traffic has increased. We’re seeing more people utilize that office. We’re seeing an issue of parking. We have people parking on the side of the roads, especially during busy times.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Michael Sinegal said the tax office roof in Port Arthur is catching water and causing mold.

“We have water running down the wall,” Sinegal said. “I took pictures and I’ll resend them for sure. That is a major issue.”

After the meeting, Branick said it is difficult to balance and budget and prioritize issues.

“Unfortunately, we have so many things that are not under our control,” he said. “Typically in the aftermath of a natural disaster, our casualty insurance goes up. We have about a 10-year history, maybe even longer, of employee health insurance costs increasing.”

Branick said county government is taking steps to reduce expenses, but some costs are not controllable.

“Road oil costs are not controllable,” he said. “Refineries have become so efficient, they use every bit of the barrel. There is not as much byproduct for road oil left over.”

The county judge said he appreciates the commissioners’ loyalty to their employees.

“Everybody thinks their project is the most important project,” he said. “A lot of that is good because it shows they care about their employees, which I appreciate.”

Branick said he does not want to raise the tax rate.

“We want economic expansions to provide additional property to tax and not increase it on the homeowner,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate over the last 10 years that has happened and looks like it will happen in the foreseeable future.”