Belicek Draws Crowd in Vanderbilt
As the Precinct 3 runoff election nears, the candidates seem to be on the campaign trail.
Approximately two dozen residents as well as a handful of county employees attended a special town hall event held in the Vanderbilt Volunteer Fire Department building. During the event, incumbent Precinct 3 County Commissioner Johnny Belicek spoke about his record of service to the county and answered questions from the public.
“I’ve never been so excited,” said Belicek. “People don’t often get to see what’s going on behind the scenes, but I’ve been working for grants for a long time, and this one is coming soon.”
He explained that his application for the Texas Community Development Block Grant will soon deliver $241,585 to Precinct 3 for use in road maintenance and repairs. The nearly quarter of million dollars will provide a significant financial boost for the precinct which reportedly has some of the highest trafficked roads in the county.
Belicek also informed attendees about the County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant Program, offered through Texas Department of Transportation, which he helped obtain for Jackson County. The grant will provide $1,190,000 which will be divided equally by Jackson County’s four precincts.
“I work hard to find ways for our precinct to qualify for these grants, and I have applied for every grant possible to enhance my budget,” said Belicek, who explained that the county’s budget formula sometimes limits a commissioner’s ability to get things done, so seeking outside funds, such as grants, becomes a key part of the job.
Per the county’s current budget formula, each precinct receives $3,801 per mile of roadway, regardless of whether the roads are paved, unpaved, gravel or dirt, highly travelled or less travelled. According to the 2020 Fiscal Year budget allocations, Precinct 3 was listed as having the fewest amount of road miles (19.59%) and thus received the fewest dollars of the four precincts. Precinct 3 received $364,550.11 to accommodate road repairs and maintenance.
To compensate for the routinely tight budgets, Belicek said the he and his crew, led by foreman Joe Garza, have had to be creative in solving problems with the least possible expense to the taxpayers.
As an example, he told of a particular project in which the Jackson County Detention Center was in need of a railing repaired to ensure the safety of the county employees as well as the inmates. The Sheriff’s Office had obtained a quote for the work from a construction company and that quote came in around $35,000. However, with his skills as welder and designer and using inmates to assist with the work, Belicek completed the repair work for under $3,000 and saved the taxpayers from paying a huge expense.
“I work for you,” Belicek told the audience. “I’ll do whatever it takes, providing it’s legal, to get things done. But we have to do a better job of working like a business in allocating money.”
Part of the duties of the Precinct 3 commissioner is to provide maintenance for the courthouse building, county services building, workforce building and any other county building.
“When I worked for Mobil Oil, I had all kinds of job opportunities. But, when I was offered a transfer, I turned it down because I wanted to stay in Jackson County,” recalled Belicek. “I know in my heart, I’ve done the best I can do for the taxpayers. I want to be here to finish what I started.”
Belicek is currently in a runoff election with challenger Glenn Martin. Election date is set for July 14, 2020.