County staff gets 3% raise
Polk County Enterprise, August 2007
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON ― Polk County employees and elected officials will get an across-the-board 3 percent cost of living pay increase, commissioners decided Tuesday. Commissioners authorized the county judge to budget an additional 2.5 percent of the salary expense for each department to fund merit pay increases. Commissioners also voted to increase the county’s contribution toward employees’ retirement accounts from a 2.25 percent match to 2.5 percent.
The pay raise was part of the proposed $22,444,788 county budget reviewed during a budget workshop held in conjunction with Tuesday’s regular meeting.
County Judge John Thompson’s draft budget would keep property taxes rates at 62.77 cents per $100 in appraised value, the same rate set by the county for the previous two years.
The effective tax rate (the rate needed to collect the same amount of property tax revenue as last year) is 57.92 cents per $100. The roll back rate is .6926, and the county’s proposed rate falls well below that rollback rate, Thompson said.
Last year’s tax base was $1,942,074,502, which yielded $12,190,402 in total taxes. This year’s certified value is $2,112,044,852, tax notices show.
The draft budget also includes the following items:
• A full-time bailiff position for the County Court at Law at a cost of $40,389. The county currently spends about $8,700 on part-time bailiffs for that court. When county court is not in session, this staff member will assist with general courthouse security issues.
• Increase the part-time secretarial position for an additional full-time secretary for Justice of the Peace Precinct 4.
• Add an additional full-time secretary for the Criminal District Attorney’s office to assist the eight prosecutors in that office.
• Add a full-time mechanic that will chiefly service fleet vehicles at the sheriff’s department. The maintenance engineering department will also change a senior maintenance technician position to foreman.
• The county jail will add an additional full-time transport officer and two additional full-time corrections officers to manage the increased jail population.
• The sheriff’s department will add a full-time evidence officer to the criminal investigation division and increase the part-time animal control office to additional full time. PCSO will also add three field training officer designations for three current patrol deputies.
• The museum is reducing personnel expenses by over $13,000 by eliminating a part-time maintenance position. Maintenance and mowing are handled by the maintenance engineering department.
•Reorganization in the Social Services and Aging departments will reduce expenses by about $13,000.
Overall operating expenses are expected to increase $949,253.11, budget reports said.
The budget changes include a $10,000 increase in the operating budget for the animal shelter, and allocate $18,000 for a kennel roof.
An additional $42,000 over last year’s budget will be used for maintenance and repair of county buildings.
Changing out the boiler/chiller at the county office annex is expected to reduce utility costs by about $47,000 during the upcoming budget year.
Increases in court-appointed attorney fees are budgeted for $36,000.
The proposed budget also allocates an additional $11,601 to volunteer fire departments.
Debt service costs for the 2007-08 budget year are estimated at $780,279.39, and include the $19 million certificates of obligation for the jail construction project and the 2007 tax notes.
Revenue estimates show an increase of $773,485.55 in ad valorem taxes and $576,507.50 in sales tax receipts.
Other tax, that includes hotel/motel occupancy taxes and mixed beverage allocations are expected to climb about $30,000, the proposed budget shows.
Interest income is expected to grow by more than $114,525, and federal and state funds, including grants, are forecast to climb by $34,252.
The “other revenue” category should generate an additional $1.144 million in the coming budget year, due mostly to revenues from the IAH detention center, the proposed budget shows.
“Other revenue” items include the per diem and phone revenue from IAH, overtime reimbursement from the Trinity River Authority, leases, contracts and non-governmental grants.
The capacity at IAH increased by 500 beds with the completion of its expansion project.
“Without the IAH revenue, we would be looking at a tax increase,” Thompson said.
The proposed budget will leave an unreserved fund balance of about $23,000 with $21,787 of that in the road and bridge fund.