by Martin Nash
The Court has been very busy over the last few weeks. It is budget time; that time of year when the Commissioner's Court has the opportunity to visit with every elected official, every department head, every employee and every organization that has ties to the county. Most officials understand the constraints of the taxpayer's dollar and will only ask for things that are truly justified. We actually have a few officials that are reluctant to ask for things that are needed. The court goes through the budget line by line and determines if that particular line item should be cut, increased or left the same. Many factors become involved in making the determination and the responsible official has an opportunity to make their case.
This has been one of the most productive budget sessions that I have had the pleasure of being involved in. We trimmed the budget quite a bit last budget session but still had to vote for a small tax rate increase due to a loss of property values. The good news this year is the property values are up and the court has the opportunity to lower the tax rate a little. By going through each line item and questioning its relevance we were also able to decrease the budget enough to offer our employees a decent salary increase. Lower tax rate and a raise- it doesn't get any better than that. It has been many years since we have been able to adjust for a cost of living increase. There are still some discussions and some of this could change, however I do not perceive an increase in the tax rate. The final budget has not yet been approved but I feel the court has done an outstanding job and continues to budget in a very conservative and responsible manner.
Actions at the August 13th Commissioners Court meeting:
Approved Minutes from previous meeting.
Approved Monthly reports, Probation, District/County Clerks, Extension office, Auditor, Treasurer and Justice of the Peace. These are reports that are required on a monthly basis.
Voted to approve the Appointment of Election Judges and Alternate Judges. Donece Gregory (Tyler County Clerk) is responsible for the election process and submitted a list of folks who were willing to assist the county and help facilitate one of our most precious rights (the right to vote).
Voted to move the Early Voting Polling Place from the Tax office to the Tyler County Nutrition Center. There have been some issues since the remodeling of the tax office and it was felt that after the completion of remodeling of the Nutrition Center it would handle the election more effectively.
Approved payment of the Tyler County Bills and Budget amendments/line item transfers requested by Jackie Skinner (Tyler County Auditor)
The Court also took no action in appointing someone to fill the vacant Tyler County Hospital At Large board position
The 2011 Independent Audit by Belt, Harris, & Pechacek was presented to the court and represented by Darla Dear. The county is in the process of changing accounting procedures. We were operating on a cash basis which is not in conformance with the Government Auditing Standards as required. It has been a real challenge and our Auditor Jackie Skinner and her staff has done an outstanding job in facilitating this change. One of the major issues was that the December bills which were paid previously out of the January budget would now come from the December budget. This meant that we would be paying for 13 months instead of 12 out of the 2011 budget. This would happen only for the 2011 budget cycle. WOW, what a hassle. The audit indicated that the process has been completed, and we are on track to finally being in the 21 century. When asked by Judge Blanchette how she would rate the county financially Mrs. Dear gave us a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being excellent. Mrs. Dear also explained that the normal amount required for contingency is 20 percent or from 3 to 6 months expenses to be held in reserve. Tyler County currently has reserves of 32 percent which is very good for these difficult times.
Keep safe and take care! As always if I can be of service please do not hesitate to give me a call.