June 25-27 the Ellis County Commissioners Court held a public workshop on next fiscal year’s county budget, speaking with county department heads throughout the workshop on each department’s needs and wants.
During the workshop, the commissioners heard from the following:
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.
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
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.
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
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.
attorney Joe Grubbs
During his presentation, Grubbs informed commissioners that he would be modifying his budget requests from their present form. The following requests can be considered tentative.
In personnel matters, Grubbs’ budget requests seek to reclassify an attorney IV position to an attorney V position and to add five new members to his staff, including two clerk IIs, an assistant attorney II, an investigator II and a felony attorney.
The district and county attorney’s budget requests a decrease of funds for travel reimbursement and check processing and an increase in funds for telephone, conferences, witness fees, legal research, computer service and equipment.
Part of the equipment line item includes a new vehicle for the office.
Treasurer Judy Burden
For her budget, Burden requested a decrease in telephone funds and an increase in funds for supplies, travel reimbursement, equipment and a computer.
Department of Development
In his budget requests, department director Delton Ake offset an increase in auto/tires with a corresponding decrease in auto equipment. Ake also requested increases in funds for telephone and maintenance of office equipment, the addition of a clerk I position and the reclassification of two clerk I positions to intermediate clerk.
Indigent health director Diana Buckley requested lowering her department’s operating expenditures by $1,100 and its auto repair budget by $800. Buckley also sought to reclassify a clerk III position to accounting clerk and increase funding for background checks.
County auditor Mike Navarro praised Buckley’s budgeting efforts to “do a lot with what she has,” calling her a “budget star.”
Director Debbie Sartor requested the court approve additional funding for operational expenditures (safety and training) for her budget. Sartor added that given her short time as director, she may need to appear before the court during the coming year to request additional funding for certain items not included in her budget.
Pct. 1 constable Ben Fry
Fry told commissioners that no major changes were required aside from an increase in telephone funds.
Pct. 3 constable Jimmie Ray
Ray reported that he requested no changes from his current budget.
Pct. 4 justice of the peace Linda Sibley
In personnel matters, Sibley requested changing a part-time clerk position in her office to a full-time position and to reclassify one clerk II position to a clerk III.
She also requested increased funds for the maintenance/repair of office equipment (for a new copy machine) and for janitorial services.
Road and Bridge Pct. 1
Commissioner Dennis Robinson requested roughly $20,500 in additional funds for next fiscal year in his budget, noting that the extra funds for materials, utilities and fuel “probably won’t be near enough.”
Robinson also noted his support for a county-wide employee cost-of-living pay raise, excluding elected officials and department heads.
Road and Bridge Pct. 2
Commissioner Bill Dodson requested a marked increase in funding for his precinct, noting the very poor condition of its roads and bridges. That condition is due in part to neglect by previous officials, the commissioner noted, adding that the already poor condition of the roads was made worse by flooding earlier this year.
While base salaries for the precinct will remain static, Dodson requested additional funds for utilities, telephone, a computer, contract labor, repair parts, gas/oil, gravel, asphalt, culverts, tires, dumpster pickups, general miscellaneous (for radios and uniforms), signs, and the purchase of equipment to replace inoperable units.
The additional funds total about $450,000, a sum roughly equivalent to the damages caused or made worse by the flooding, Dodson said.
Road and Bridge Pct. 4
Commissioner Ron Brown requested an increase in funds for utilities and gas/oil in his budget for the next fiscal year and noted his support for Robinson’s proposal for an across-the-board cost-of-living pay increase for county employees, excluding elected officials and department heads.
County judge Chad Adams
In his proposed budget, Adams requested a $2,000 increase in his travel reimbursement budget, a $570 increase in telephone funds and an additional $2,000 for attending conferences.
Supervisor Keith Roberts requested a salary raise for a maintenance mechanic, and an increase in operational expenditures for travel reimbursement, utilities, repairs/routine maintenance, custodial supplies, and courthouse lawn care.
County clerk Cindy Polley
Polley’s proposed budget seeks to reclassify a Clerk II position to a Clerk III and an increase in funds for travel reimbursement.
Texas Cooperative Extension
County agent Mark Arnold told commissioners that the extension seeks an increase for its operating budget, specifically for general travel, 4-H travel, integrated pest management conference fees, a cell phone for the integrated pest management agent and vehicle maintenance.
Constable Terry Nay
Nay’s primary request is for a new deputy constable position to act as a school resource officer, the cost to be split evenly between the county and the Waxahachie ISD.
Noting that the Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Court handled about 9,000 cases during the present fiscal year, Nay also requested funds for an additional part-time deputy constable position.
Chief Chris Aldama requested increases for operating expenditures including travel, general miscellaneous, education and training and psychiatric/medical. He also requested an increase in salary for three employees and capital expenditures.
Soil/Water Conservation District
Lee Harris requested an increase in funding for dam maintenance and repair, operational maintenance and amended easements. Harris also requested $5,000 be set aside for emergency repairs.
County engineer Joe White
White requested the addition of a clerk position for his department and increasing funding for salaries and capital expenditures. The proposed capital expenditures are for program costs and equipment, including two trucks.
Auditor Mike Navarro
Navarro requested increased funding for salary and related costs, operational expenditures of telephone and supplies and a decrease in funding for contract labor. He also requested the addition of an accounting clerk position for his department.
County Court-at-Law No. 2
Judge Gene Calvert’s proposed budget includes no changes from the present fiscal year.