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Commissioners vote to extend contract with ITS

Profile image for By Bj Lewis
By Bj Lewis

Denton County commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday to extend the contract for Innovative Transportation Solutions Inc. — a seven-person firm — and John Polster, who serves as a transportation consultant for the county, for three more years.

The only dissenting vote came from Commissioner Hugh Coleman, who restated his position that services could be brought in-house for less than the $30,000 a month the county pays ITS.

“Like I said in the past, I don’t think we particularly get the best bang for our buck with the ITS consulting contract,” he said. “I don’t think we need an intermediary between us and TxDOT.

“We spend a lot of money, and I think we would be better served bringing that in-house and having our own engineers interact with our cities and constituents,” he added.

Commissioner Andy Eads said Denton County has been the envy of the region for ongoing projects and those planned for the future. He credited ITS with helping the county on projects.

County Judge Mary Horn stressed the county is hiring not just Polster, but his firm as well, and lauded the cooperation the county has with the cities to get transportation work completed.

Coleman also brought up the fact that the county has been using money off interest bonds to pay for the contract.

Denton County auditor James Wells said the Commissioners Court has been advised each time the renewal has been discussed that the current source of funding will not always be there.

“We didn’t earn that much countywide this year off all county funds — bond funds and all local funds together,” Wells said. “The situation is [that] this was a big fund originally. It earned a lot of interest.”

With a quick calculation, during an interview Tuesday afternoon, Wells said at a half-percent interest, it would take a billion dollars to earn $500,000.

“They have been advised it will be depleted and they have to arrange other funding sources,” he said.

During Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting, Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell said that not everything was perfect concerning the consulting contract, but she was not sure it would be perfect with anyone else.

Mitchell said she had issues with Polster’s employment by other cities but said she had worked things out with Polster and trusts him to put the county’s interests first. She likened it to trusting Coleman since he does work for the city of Sanger.

After trading words over the relevancy of Coleman’s job as well as comments about the work other commissioners do when not acting for the county, the vote was taken and the extension was given.

“I’m glad to see the majority of the court still sees value in the services we provide,” Polster said. “I look forward to continuing to promote the county’s transportation agenda in all venues.”

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.