Department Operations Updates: October 6, 2021

This post includes a summary of recent Dallas County department operations updates relevant, specifically, to members of the Dallas County Commissioners Court.  

Team updates include:

  • Elections
  • Veteran Services
  • Health and Human Services
  • Budget and Evaluation
  • Human Resources

Elections

Director: Michael Scarpello

Michael Scarpello, Elections Administrator

Our department remains committed to conducting reliable elections and to accurately maintaining voter-registration records for Dallas County citizens.

In addition to upholding the laws, policies and court decisions of federal, state and local jurisdictions, our department is responsible for the following: 

  • Voter Registration Records
  • Voting Site Management and Poll Worker Training
  • Ballot by Mail Management
  • Warehouse and Logistics Management
  • Election Equipment Management
  • Community Outreach and Voter Education

Our department welcomed three new employees and celebrated one anniversary.

  • Deatrice Kirk, Administration Manager (July 6, 2021) 
    • Ms. Deatrice Kirk began her career with Dallas County on September 4, 1997, and has completed her 24th year of service.
  • Yeasel Kim (July 6, 2021)
  • Breana Wilson (September 29, 2021)

Sixteen department employees attended the 39th Annual Election Law Seminar for County Election Officials.

Some of the topics discussed include:

  • 2021 Legislative Update
  • Preparing for the November Election
  • Redistricting Updates
  • Post-Election Audits
  • Voting by Mail
  • Updates from the Office of the Attorney
  • Primary 2022
  • Early Voting vs. Election Day Laws
  • Election Security
  • Preparing for the Early Voting Ballot Board
  • Training Your Workers

Our department has recorded the following voter registration records:

New Voter Registration Records31,127
Transactions have been processed109,635
Mailed out Notices111,156
Returned Mail5,987

Our department implemented several improvements for the November 2, 2021, Joint Election.

  • Improved processes and training for poll workers: The Elections Department has made significant changes to improve the experience of both poll workers and voters throughout Early Voting and on Election Day. We have created new, easy-to-use tools for poll workers to assist voters and complete their election-related duties. In addition, we have revised our training program to ensure poll workers receive training relevant to their role and that the information  is consistent throughout all classes. We have created a training geared towards adult learners that incorporates interactive elements into the presentation. The department is welcoming feedback from those who attend training and will be looking for ways to improve this process for future elections.
  • Consolidation of warehouses: Our department has been working to purge obsolete records, supplies, and equipment from our multiple facilities to consolidate our space and improve our warehouse inventory control. Prior to entering the critical election preparation period for the November 2 Constitutional and Joint Election, significant progress was made in both our Langdon Street warehouse and Roundtable Drive warehouses.
  • Vote center supply distribution: We redesigned of some of our internal and external signs and forms.

Our department continues to register new voters and reach out to the community through the Volunteer Deputy Registrar Program and our dedicated community partners.

  • Dallas County Volunteer Deputy Registrars were out in the community throughout the month of September conducting over 30 voter registration events (see pictures below).
    • We held a Voter Registration Fair at Klyde Warren Park.
    • We participated in National Voter Registration Day on September 28 at several locations in the community.
  • Our department conducted two successful informational community meetings:
    • Election Commission
    • Citizen Elections Advisory Committee
      • Swearing in of six new members
      • Implemented new Bylaws

Veteran Services

Interim Director: James T Henderson Jr. (U.S. Army, Retired)

James T Henderson Jr. (U.S. Army, Retired)

Our department remains committed to the core mission of “assisting eligible Veterans and/or their survivors in obtaining benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the State of Texas. Our primary focus is Veteran’s assistance, directed toward ensuring that all Dallas County Veterans receive every benefit to which they are entitled.”

Servicing the Veteran community continues to be complex during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent variants. However, the department has made great strides in how it provides services to the Veteran community.

  • A Veteran Services Officer (VSO) is now providing services in one of the most pristine locations in South Dallas. The new South Dallas Government Veteran Services Department is fully operational.
  • To ensure Veterans can obtain representation throughout the county, funding, plans, and operational procedures have been approved for a new satellite office in the newly renovated North Dallas Government Center (Commissioner J.J. Koch, District 2). Operational/staffing date is set for January. 
  • Veteran Services representation is an intricate part of each county district. Veterans and family members will now have access to VSO representation within their communities.

Implementation of a new and innovative platform, VetPro, has given the department complete control for virtual and off-site engagements. Our operation can now sustain itself as a 100% remote unit—at any given time

  • All office personnel desktop computers have been replaced with mobile laptops and docking stations. Each department member can now become completely remote… instantly.
  • VetPro allows the Veteran Services Officer to completely service a Veteran from start to finish at any location. The VSO can upload medical evidence, complete applicable documents, digitally sign, and submit—in real time—to the VA, with zero physical contact with the client.
  • Though clients do periodically walk in for services, this platform accounts for 85% of all VSO triage and claim submittal operations.

Services and programs for the Veterans of Dallas County are numerous, and our department has enhanced pathways to the most professional and credible agencies and service providers.

  • Dallas County Veterans can now access a one-stop shop for resources, thanks to the recently signed Dallas County Memorandum of Understanding with the Texas Veterans Network. The Veteran Services Department can now streamline access to specific agencies, providing detailed programs/assistance (i.e., emergency financial assistance, employment, and other social services). This partnership permits the VSO to better connect, in a completely automated manner, community Veterans and their dependents/survivors to a network of more than 700 service providers listed within the Texas Veterans Network. 
  • A two-fold collaboration has been created. Providers within the network now direct ALL Dallas County Veteran benefits referrals to the Dallas County VSO. Currently, we have received 54 referrals within 27 days.

The following chart gives a monthly snapshot of operations within the department:

Health and Human Services

Director: Dr. Philip Huang

Dr. Philip Huang, Director of the Health and Human Services Department and the Health Authority for Dallas County

Our department is proud to announce the continuation of vaccination efforts through pop-up clinics in Dallas County.

In January 2021, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) strategically selected Fair Park as a mega-vaccination site to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to those most at risk of severe illness. Since then, over 500,000 vaccines doses were administered at this location.

The operations at the mega vaccination center at Fair Park ended in May 2021, and smaller community pop-up clinics have been set up to help ensure residents still have access to the vaccine. Using vaccine data, DCHHS has identified the zip codes with the lowest vaccination rates and is working with community partners to host community vaccination clinics at churches, libraries, community centers, and other locations in these areas.

We are continuing the immunization efforts and have made the COVID-19 vaccine available for residents at the main DCHHS Immunization Clinic and the Jefferson Clinic in Oak Cliff. We are also working to expand vaccination options at our other satellite clinics as well.

As part of our outreach efforts, we are going door-to-door sharing facts about the COVID-19 vaccine in disadvantaged zip codes in the county where the vaccination rate is low. This has been a successful strategy in getting media attention. Click here to watch a short video on these outreach efforts.

Starting on September 24, we are partnering with the State Fair of Texas to offer free COVID-19 vaccines at the State Fair where many residents will be in attendance.

Our Community Outreach Teams help the most vulnerable in Dallas County to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more about the work of the Community Outreach Teams in this Dallas County Messenger article.

Earlier this year DCHHS was awarded the Health Disparities and Health Literacy grants, which will allow DCHHS to expand its community outreach program and further outreach efforts. By the end of the year, DCHHS hopes to have a 35-member Community Outreach Team.

Emergency Housing Assistant Program (EHAP) offers financial assistance to residents affected by COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has financially affected many Dallas County residents. Many have lost their only source of income, or have seen their working hours reduced, and are now unable to pay for their basic necessities. To mitigate the impact and support individuals and families, DCHHS administers a short-term Emergency Housing Assistant Program (EHAP) to pay for rent, mortgage and utility bills. DCHHS also administers the Texas Eviction Diversion Program (TEDP) to help people who are behind on their rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are about to be evicted from their homes. TEDP allows courts to place eviction lawsuits on hold and divert them to the TEDP. TEDP helps eligible tenants stay in their homes and provides landlords with an alternative to eviction.

Key achievements for the EHAP and TEDP programs include:

  • 1,935 clients have received financial assistance through EHAP
  • $10,403,681 in funds obligated for EHAP assistance
  • 88 clients saved from eviction through TEDP
  • $578,545 in funds obligated for TEDP assistance
Kylah Johnson, a mother of three girls, was about to be evicted from her home. She didn’t know where to turn for help until she reached out to DCHHS. Ms. Johnson applied for the EHAP program and qualified for it. DCHHS stepped in and paid for her rent and utilities, preventing the eviction process from going forward.
 
“It’s been really difficult. Life expenses, with rent, car note, trying to keep the lights on,” said Ms. Johnson. “If you need help, this is a great program, especially if you’re behind or on the verge of getting evicted. It’s not the end. Keep fighting.”
 
Click here to read the news story.

DCHHS tests, monitors, and reports West Nile Virus activity.

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes can become infected when they feed on the blood from infected birds. DCHHS actively monitors and tests mosquito traps placed in designated areas throughout the county. When a mosquito trap tests positive for WNV, a ground spraying scheduled press release is issued citing the times and locations (zip codes) the ground spraying will take place.

Additionally, DCHHS reports on positive WNV Human Cases and deaths. DCHHS has reported two West Nile Virus related death for 2021 compared to six WNV related deaths for 2020 and one WNV related death in 2019. Moreover, DCHHS has reported 18 human cases of West Nile Virus infection in Dallas County for 2021.

DCHHS takes proactive measures to respond to WNV and urges the community to follow the 4 Ds to prevent the spread of the virus:

  • DEET: Whenever you’re outside, use insect repellents that contain DEET or other EPA-approved repellents and follow instructions.
  • DRESS: Wear long, loose, and light-colored clothing when outdoors.
  • DRAIN: Drain or treat all standing water in and around your home or workplace where mosquitoes could lay eggs.
  • DAWN to DUSK: Limit your time outdoors during these times when mosquitos are most active.

Budget and Evaluation

Director: Dr. Ronica Watkins

Dr. Ronica Watkins, Budget Officer

The Dallas County Office of Budget and Evaluation (OBE) is charged with developing a proposed County budget for consideration, modification, and adoption by the Dallas County Commissioners Court. Department heads prepare their requests and ending with budget and tax rate adoption in September.

The FY2022 budget was adopted on September 29, 2021, with a total General Fund adopted budget of $729.7 million, representing an increase of $48.3 million (7%) over the FY2021 adopted budget of $678.3 million. The FY2022 All Funds budget is $1.5 billion.

The FY2022 recommended budget includes the following:

  1. Workforce Investment – $18.05 million
  2. Bi-Annual Equity Pay Review – Effective January 2022 – $1.5 million
  3. Increase Retirement Dallas County Contribution – $1 million
  4. 2% structure – effective November 1 – $7.6 million    
  5. 2% PCE – effective January 2022 – $2.95 million (based on filled positions)
  6. Law Enforcement Step for staff eligible – $3.5 million
  7. One-time pay premium for employees Grade D or less (effective first pay period in December)
  8. Reclassifications – $704k
  9. Replacement vehicles – $2.0 million
  10. 38 new positions – $3.6 million
  11. Equipment replacement – $300,000

American Rescue Plan Proposed Budget (ARP Committee will present to Commissioners Court for final recommendations)

  1. Public Safety vehicle replacements ($500k Health and Human Services vehicles briefed for CARES funding on September 7)
  2. FY2022 requested positions – 96 positions $6.9 million
  3. Countywide New Program Requests – $14 million

Dallas County continues to maintain a conservative tax rate, and the FY2022 recommended tax rate is the lowest it has been since FY2011. 

The FY2022 budget has been developed at the no-new-revenue tax rate of $0.227946 cents. The tax rate represents a decrease of -0.011794 from FY2021 rate of .239740 cents per $100 tax assessed valuation. Dallas County’s tax rate is one of the lowest of urban counties in Texas.

Dallas County will be able to balance the budget with the 10.5% reserve funds in the General Fund as required by Dallas County Policy as well as begin working toward the goal of a maintaining a two-month Emergency Reserves Balance. 

Human Resources

Director: Bob Wilson

Bob Wilson, Director of Human Resources

Our department has implemented an effort to help create and maintain a work environment free from racism. 

As a response to the Commissioners Court who proclaimed racism as a public health crisis, the Dallas County Commissioners passed a resolution indicating they would support all efforts to address racism and public health disparities due to racial inequities.

  • Sponsored by Dallas County’s leadership team and approved by Commissioners Court, a workshop was approved for all Dallas County employees. This workshop is facilitated by Phil Claybrooke, author, CEO of Metrics to Results, former VP at TDIndustries Corporation and business owner.
  • All Dallas County employees are eligible to register for the “Turning Unconscious Bias to Conscious Thought” class via the Dallas County Human Resources Training and Staff Development Portal. Currently, we have received a positive response with more than 800 employees across 27 departments. Participation is still open to those who would like to enroll in the workshop. This link will direct employees to enrolling in the workshop. 
  • Workshop participants shared the following:
    • “I plan to continue trying to make every effort to listen to people and understand their backgrounds and perspectives.”
    • “I will open up to discussions that I would normally shy away from.”
    • “Treat people as you would like to be treated. Respect goes a long way.”
    • “I will be more conscious in my personal dealings with colleagues by first getting to understand who they are and ultimately their story.”
    • “Became attentive to my bias and make less assumptions. Ask questions to gain insight instead of relying on preconceived beliefs.”

Our annual Open Enrollment period will be held between October 18, 2021, through November 12, 2021. 

Dallas County employees must make their elections for Open Enrollment Plan Year 2022 by the deadline of November 12, 2021. 

New Plan Information for 2022 includes:

  • Health Spending Account maximum contribution limit increases per IRS guidelines
  • Individual$3,600  / Over 55  $4,600
  • Family  – $7,200 / Over 55  $8,200
  • Bariatric surgery coverage – effective February 2020
  • Gender identity support through UHC
  • New Dental Plans: Delta Dental PPO and Delta Dental HMO
  • New Vision Plan – VSP
  • Wellness:  Outcome-Based Wellness Program
  • Will require blood pressure (BP) to fall in a certain range in order to receive 150 for biometric screening without having to do additional work or screenings.
  • Outcome-based challenges set up by HR Department and/or PEBC to receive the employer points toward the 300 point total.

Open Enrollment documents will be distributed to all Dallas County employees through Broadcast email alerts from HR Benefits. Employees can review Open Enrollment information through the HR Benefits Open Enrollment website. The Benefits Department will offer virtual meetings and website demonstrations in October and November. Watch for upcoming alerts on those offerings.

Join us in welcoming our newest member of the HR leadership team, Althea Chaderton.

Althea Chaderton, Assistant Director of Human Resources

Althea Chaderton, MSILR, SHRM-CP, recently joined HR to fill the role of Assistant Director of Human Resources reporting to Robert B. Wilson, HR Director. Althea is an HR professional with extensive global management experience in the development and execution of human resources strategy and administration in support of corporate and segment wide business initiatives. She has directed HR activities related to acquisitions and divestitures, change management, workforce development, succession planning, talent acquisition, compensation, training and development, performance management, employee engagement, employee relations, labor relations and litigation support. She brings a wealth of experience to Dallas County and we are confident she will further enhance our Employee Relations and Training & Development division, while providing value-added support to execute strategic initiatives across the organization. Welcome, Althea, to our Dallas County HR Team!  

Our department recognizes one of its emerging leaders, Carmon Brown!

The Dallas County Leadership and Management Academy’s inaugural class included one of our very own emerging leaders in Human Resources, Carmon Brown. Carmon has lent her expertise as Benefits Specialist and Human Resources Analyst III and IV in Compensation and Employment divisions during her tenure at Dallas County and is currently an HR Analyst in the Employee Relations division. Human Resources is proud to recognize Carmon Brown as a Human Resources emerging leader!