TCOG can keep environmental fines close to home

Should any cities in Grayson, Fannin, or Cooke counties find themselves wrapped up in red tape and on the wrong side of a government-drawn line in the sand when it comes to environmental regulations, at least the Texoma Council of Governments will be there to provide a silver lining. The organization’s Governing Board on Thursday approved a change that will allow TCOG to act as a third-party administrator for Supplemental Environmental Projects, allowing cities to reinvest fines into their communities.

“SEPs are environmentally beneficially projects that a respondent agrees to undertake in settlement of an enforcement action,” said TCOG Solid Waste Program Manager David Trout. “What this does is it allows local governments that might get into a fined situation — with a wastewater fine or something like that — they can choose to do a local environmental project that would benefit the local area instead of paying the money back to the state.”

In other business, Board members discussed the appointment of nine members to TCOG’s Criminal Justice Advisory Committee: Cooke County residents Kevin Phillips, Kim Cook, Chris Cypert and Kim Parsons; Fannin County residents Brandon Caffee, Richard Glaser and Brenda Moore; and Grayson County residents Tim Barnes and Martha Nuckols.

TCOG leaders approved the 2013 Homeland Security Project Change, which will upgrade the communications range for Fannin County law enforcement. The $10,000 project will be paid for with federal funds.

The TCOG Board authorized Executive Director Susan Thomas to contract with the Texas Department of Housing for low-income, energy-assistance dollars, budgeted at $609,000 this year. TCOG staff informed the Board that the amount is less than last year, but they hope to receive another round of funding in the spring.

During the executive director’s report, Thomas touched on numerous highlights from the organization’s accomplishments in 2013, including an updated Texoma Resource Book, a new Senior Sourcebook magazine and a revamped employee assessment tool. Overall, Thomas said TCOG employees achieved 92 percent of their goals for the year, including drastic reductions in internal health care costs.


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