The Ellis County Commissioners Court held its first day of a three-day public workshop on next fiscal year’s county budget Monday, speaking with county department heads for nearly seven hours.
Commissioners were set to re-convene their workshop this morning in the second floor courtroom of the Ellis County Courthouse, located at 101 W. Main St., in Waxahachie. This is an open meeting and the public is welcome to attend.
On Monday, the following officials addressed the commissioners:
Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Jackie Miller Jr.
The Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace court is in need of an additional full time clerk and a part-time (20 hours per week) bailiff, Miller said, noting the needs are due to the significant increase in the court’s caseload.
“I’ve got to have at least one (additional) person,” Miller said.
District Clerk Melanie Reed
The district clerk’s office has seen a drastic increase in passports applications and needs to implement the collections improvement program, an unfunded mandate by the state, Reed said.
The district clerk is requesting changing three clerk II positions to clerk III positions to promote certain employees and giving her employees a 5 percent across-the-board pay raise.
378th District Court Judge Al Scoggins
Scoggins said his budget would essentially be the same as the one for the current year, though it would include additional funds for a visiting judge.
Scoggins said he is seeing cases in which he knows the parties involved more frequently, and as a result is having to get another judge to hear the case in his stead.
Ellis County Sheriff’s Office
Capt. Dennis Brearley presented a considerable list of budget requests, dividing the requests into the three areas of personnel, the jail and general.
In general requests, the ECSO seeks a 5 percent pay increase for its employees, $5,000 more for telephones, an additional $1,500 for crime prevention programs, additional funds for animal control, a slight increase for furniture, additional funds for car-related expenditures and an increase in the miscellaneous fund.
The increase in the miscellaneous fund is mostly for long-haul, inter-state prisoner transport, but also includes funds for maintenance contracts and crime scene investigations, Brearley said, commenting that “the cost for DNA is just outlandish.”
In personnel matters, the ECSO has requested to change several deputy positions to corporals, and add a traffic deputy, sergeant and several part-time deputies for criminal investigations, two part-time deputies for intra-state transport and a civilian animal control specialist.
Wayne McCollum Detention Center budget requests include increases in operating costs (such as utilities, repairs and supplies), general miscellaneous fund, training funds, new equipment, furniture, a 15-passenger van for prisoner transport, an additional information technology position, eight detention officers and a civilian maintenance specialist.
Texas Department of Public Safety
DPS Sgt. Chris Jones requested funds for additional secretarial positions, supplies and telephone expenditures.
Elections Administrator Jane Anderson
Anderson requested a promotion to clerk III for one of her employees, an increase in pay for election judges and clerks, additional funds for capital expenditures and furniture and funds for a voter-registration software upgrades.
Sharon McKinney asked to reduce her automobile/gas line item from $2,500 to $1,700, increase her automobile/repair line item to $1,000, promote her clerk I position to clerk III and asked also for funds for a dam breach assessment, which will be necessary to determine evacuation routes for the county’s emergency management plan.
James Wilhoite from the county’s veterans services department asked for funds for an additional 10 hours per week for his position (raising it to 30 hours per week), adding that his goal for the coming year is to open satellite offices in Midlothian and Ferris, where he will spend one day a month in donated office space to help veterans. This year his department opened satellite offices in Red Oak and Italy.
Wilhoite said there are about 13,000 veterans in the county who draw about $18 million per year in benefits, adding that these veterans represent only about a third of the total number of veterans in the county.
Pct. 4 Constable Steve McKinney
McKinney’s budget for the coming year includes adding one additional member to his staff, an additional telephone landline and additional funds for bond issues, radios, uniforms and postage (for warrant letters). McKinney’s budget also reflects a decrease in his general supplies, repair and gasoline budgets, of which the last is made possible by only getting gas at the county barn or the contracted vendor.
In capital expenditures, the constable requested $2,000 for a computer for his reserve constables and funds for office furniture.
County Fire Investigator and Marshal Jim Pharr
Pharr reported no major changes in his budget, saying he only needed to cover costs.
Justice of the Peace Curtis Polk
Polk requested that the hours for a part-time clerk be increased from 25 hours per week to 32 hours per week and to upgrade two clerk II positions to clerk III.
Tax Assessor/Collector John Bridges
In addition to a 3 percent cost-of-living raise for all but two of the members of his department (one of whom will be promoted), Bridges requested funds for an additional staff person for the satellite office in Midlothian and additional funds for postage.
Leanne Brindle requested additional employee hours and corresponding pay in response to the library’s increased use.
Purchasing Agent Richard Denniston
The county purchasing department is requesting a $1,000 increase in its operating expenditures budget, funds for the replacement of one computer and the reduction of its supply budget by $5,000 to a total of $15,000.
MIS Teral Crawford
Speaking for the county’s information technology department, Crawford said his budget - which is mostly operating costs - will include an increase in telephone funds.
Road and Bridge Pct. 3 Commissioner Heath Sims
After a presentation by Pct. 3 employee Jonathan Blundell on the status of the precinct’s roads, which were damaged by this spring’s flooding, and other information pertaining to the division of road miles amongst the precincts, Sims said his budget will request an increase of $358,000 to allow for repairs to roads and bridges.
County Court-at-Law No. 1 Judge Greg Wilhelm
Wilhelm said the only increase in his budget is a cost-of-living increase for his staff.
E-mail Anthony at Anthony.Trojan@waxahachiedailylight.com