|San Jacinto News Times - Local News
Copyright 2012 - Polk County Publishing Company
County budget workshop begins with salary increases, no tax hike
COLDSPRING – A workshop started San Jacinto County’s 2013 preliminary budget process off with proposed employee pay increases and talk of no tax increases. At this point of the budget process, county departments have submitted what they hope to get approved in their operating funds for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Revenues for the new proposed budget are still an estimate. “We haven’t gotten the final figures from the appraisal district. We will not get those until the end of July,” said San Jacinto County Auditor Carole Martin. The current proposal is based on the same tax rate as last year, according to Martin, who said she doesn’t see a tax increase coming. During last year’s budgeting process, commissioners’ court was asked to cut taxes during one of two public hearings held on a proposed tax rate increase. At that time, the court was proposing to increase total tax revenues from properties on the tax roll in the preceding tax year by 3.28 percent. Many felt the property tax increase was necessary because of the loss of $350,000 from the county jail construction that was applied to the jail note, which decreased county revenues and a $100,000 increase in county employee insurance. The 2012 budget had no raises for employees and no new positions or capital outlay. Employee benefits include longevity pay, dental insurance, health insurance, life insurance and retirement. Following public meetings last year about the 2012 budget, commissioners adopted this year’s budget total of $8.5 million in the general fund, down from $9.6 million in 2010- 2011. The tax rate funding the 2012 budget went up .014 cents per $100 property valuation, up from .6236 in 2011 to .6376 per $100 property valuation in 2012. The county’s overall budget for 2012 amounted to $23 million in expenditures and revenue, which included $9.4 million in grants. About $100,000 was chopped from the 2012 budget last year before it was passed by Commissioners Mark Nettuno, Butch Moody and San Jacinto County Judge Fritz Faulkner. Spending in the new 2013 budget, which includes the wish list of department heads, totals about $8.9 million. Faulkner is proposing a 3 percent pay increase for county employees, saying, “This is just.” Operation of the county jail and the upgrade of nearly 20- year-old computer equipment are expected to take a chunk of the county’s new budget. An increase in health care for inmates is projected to be about $100,000. According to Faulkner there are several estimates for the new technology and software upgrades for the county. “We’re probably going to shop around. The software has been here since 1993,” Faulkner said. Server prices so far range from $7,000 to $26,000, according to Faulkner.