The Ellis County Commissioners Court voted unanimously Monday night to accept the proposed 2009-2010 budget.

The approved budget maintained the same tax rate as last year while having a 20-percent decrease in expenditures.

County Auditor Mike Navarro detailed the new budget, which totals $79,041,960.

“This is a $19,474,009 decrease from last year,” Navarro told the commissioners.

The decrease was the result of expenses required for the new courthouse, jail and parking garage that the county had last year are less as the project nears a May completion.

“The funds for the project are not needed as the construction funds for the debt service are not needed in this budget year,” he said.

“I went into this budget with cuts in mind,” Commissioner Pct. 3 Heath Sims said. “The judge and commissioners were asked to work in cuts across the board. All the departments did a real good job holding the line.”

In other business, Sims read a proclamation recognizing the Ellis County Renegades baseball team. With the team and coaches appearing before the commissioners, Sims recognized the team as a whole as well as several members for their contribution.

The under 12 division team won the Baseball World Series title in its division.

The commissioners approved a request from elections director Jane Anderson to accept a clarified petition of qualified voter signatures for a local option election Nov. 3 to legalize the sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption in the city of Italy.

The commissioners also approved Anderson’s request to spend Help America Vote Act grant monies for the purchase of Election Assistant pre-converter software, data software and licensing. The request included purchase of five additional Palm Pilots for the voting system using the HAVA grant funds.

Anderson said the county already has 37 of the units, with the five additional ones needed to fully support voting operations in the county.

The Palm Pilots are used at the polling places to ensure a voter is in the correct precinct. If not, workers can remotely access the system through the Palm Pilots to direct the voter to the correct voting site.

Commissioners heard several variance requests from public works director Delton Ake for manufactured home subdivisions. The variances requested included allowances for road frontage requirements and fire hydrant requirements. All of the requests were approved with the exception of one in Pct 4, where potential purchasers wanted to divide a lot into two while maintaining one driveway. Several are residents spoke to the commissioners requesting they deny the request for reasons including appearance and potential water drainage effects on other properties.

Several purchasing requests were accepted, including extending a contract with Trinity Industries for grade 4 pea gravel with no change in pricing, the purchase of a 2008 Dodge pickup for Pct. 2 and authorization for the disposal as surplus of sheriff’s office jailer uniforms that are too worn.

The commissioners also approved Pct. 1’s purchase of a Roscoe No. 915 wheel asphalt roller with water tank for $50,989.