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Bexar County Commissioners discuss Helotes emergency calls, county audit

File photo of Helotes City Hall sign
Brian Kirkpatrick
Texas Public Radio
File photo of Helotes City Hall sign

The City of Helotes wants Bexar County to fund its emergency dispatch operations since it is no longer cost-efficient for the city to do so.

Helotes Mayor Rich Whitehead asked Bexar County Commissioners last week to fund their dispatch center or to add dispatchers at the county sheriff's office to handle the city's emergency calls.

Whitehead said his city could pitch in to pay for new dispatch equipment to replace equipment that will become obsolete in mid-July. He said Helotes could use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

"Helotes can purchase the consoles. We can use ARPA money for that as well, but it really only makes sense if Bexar County decides to go forward and fund the Helotes dispatch operations for a period of two years," said Whitehead.

Talks between the county and Helotes will continue. Whitehead said savings from a dispatch agreement with the county could be used to pay for more police officers. He said the growing city of more than 12,000 people has not added a new police officer in 10 years.

A planned subdivision with 3,000 homes, north of Helotes, is adding to the area's growth.

The sheriff's department reported it would need to hire more dispatchers to handle the request from Helotes if the commissioners decided they should handle the calls.

In other county business last week, an outside audit found Bexar County government to be in tip-top shape.

The 2021-2022 county budget is just below $3 billion to fund operations and massive capital projects and to pay 5,000 county employees.

Garza-Gonzales and Associates did a lot of number crunching to find the county's overall financial standing free of deficiencies and in compliance with regulations.

County Judge Nelson Wolff said Bexar County has some of the best credit in the nation despite the pandemic, which can hurt local government tax revenues.

"This is precisely why we're one of the few governments left in the United States that has a triple A credit rating from all three credit agencies, which again is a very unusual thing to be going on this time of year," the judge said.

Wolff credited the county's conservative spending habits and oversight by the county's budget and auditor's offices for the outside audit findings.

In other action, county commissioners issued a proclamation to honor the Oak Hills Country Club on its 100th anniversary.

County Commissioner Tommy Calvert read the proclamation.

"It was founded 100 years ago in 1921 as the Alamo Country Club, designed by renowned architect A.W. Tillinghast," the proclamation began.

The course on Fredericksburg Road closed during the Great Depression, but reopened after World War II as Oak Hills Country Club. The course is known for small greens and deep bunkers. It has hosted a number of PGA events, including the inaugural championship tournament in 1987, won by Tom Watson.

Tillinghast designed 268 golf courses, including the one at Brackenridge Park.

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