The members of the Ellis County Commissioners Court approved the 2013-2014 totaling $53,700,603 by a unanimous vote.
“We worked many hours and had several meetings to put this budget together,” County Judge Carol Bush said.
Prior to the final polling of the commissioners, Commissioner Paul Perry told the court that he would like the see more public hearings where the citizens could hear and have input on each department’s budget.
To fund the budget, the commissioners unanimously approved both the adoption of the 2013-2014 tax rate and ratified the property tax increase.
The total tax rate of $0.413599 per $100 of taxable value is the same rate as last year. “My goal was not to vote for a tax rate increase,” Commissioner Paul Perry said.
Even though the tax rate remains unchanged the county will see an increase in revenue due to increased property values in the appraisal district, which amounts to an increase of 2.7 percent or an additional $1,211,215. Of that amount $884,577 was added from new properties on the tax rolls.
Prior to the bringing the budget for a vote, Bush gave a power point presentation illustrating the county’s growth, the need for additional services and strategies for the county.
Citing a projected population of 168,662 in 2018 Bush said the more we see in population growth, the more services we will need to provide and budget for. The county’s current population is 153,969.
The additional revenues will be allocated to increases in overhead, vehicle fleet costs, personnel in various departments, 443rd District Court initial expenses and state mandated increases.
The investment in personnel included the addition of three full-time employees in the auditor, purchasing and district clerk’s office, an additional six part-time employees will be added to the district clerks, county clerks, highway patrol, security, human resources and emergency services departments.
Fleet purchases were also discussed.
“We will be looking at age, mileage and condition for vehicle replacements,” Bush said. Vehicles to be replaced will be for the Fire Marshall, Constable Pct. 1, Constable Pct. 3 and Constable Pct. 4.
Non-law enforcement vehicles slated for replacement are for the engineering, indigent health and maintenance departments as well as the department of development.
Sheriff Johnny Brown appeared before the commissioners requesting budget changes to move $500,00 funds from jail salary to equipment, auto purchases and radios.
The commissioners only approved a $164,445 transfer after taking no action on the sheriff’s request to purchase seven Chevrolet Tahoes and equipment for the Tahoes.
Describing the vehicle needs for the department Brown said he had several vehicles with more than 100,000 miles and one with more than 200,000 miles.
After discussions between Brown and the commissioners, no action was taken due to the failure of a motion being made.
The sheriff was successful in being granted several requests for radios, seven rifles and storage equipment.
Other action taken was several inter-local agreements, between cities and the county, were approved in two motions.
The commissioners unanimously approved a request by Paige Bishop, 4-H and Youth Development Extension Agent, to name the week of Oct. 6-12 as National 4-H week.