Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Presidio County Commissioners Court tax rate hearing and budget workshop, 9/22/2015, 9 AM, Presidio, TX

I attended the tax rate hearing and the budget workshop today in Presidio.
The meeting lasted about 7 hours in total and featured a lot of back and forth about the budget.
I was dissatisfied with the outcome, but not mad about it, really.
I would like for the citizens to pay attention to what happens in the County this year and let your feelings be heard in time for next year's budget process, which should begin earlier and be less painful.

The long and short of today's action and inaction leave us with a deficit budget to the tune of about $450,000, which will be taken out of reserves from the jail fund and County M&O excess cash flow. Given that the County is raising an extra $415,000 this year in new tax revenues, this is a disappointment to many. No raises for employees and many contributions to governmental programs outside of the County's jurisdiction. Cuts in nearly every department based in the courthouse and law enforcement. The only bright spot is in getting ahold of our bookkeeping, which is happening and is the answer to our biggest problems.

Here's the transcript, typed as I sat. My hands are sore...

Presidio County Commissioners tax Rate hearing and Budget workshop
Proposed Tax Rate: .63804 per $100
Same as last year
Citizen Comments:
Carlos Nieto: represents City of Presidio, 5000 residents
Wants to ask court for service/ consideration to amend budget to provide County Clerk services in the courthouse annex. Elderly people have to drive 120 miles. This is overdue, it's a shame that these taxpayers have to suffer through driving that far.
2nd issue: while we value the golf course in N County we do not use it. County needs to get it right and contract out with someone to run it better. On behalf of the 5000 people in Presidio. We pay taxes, we ask for responsible government.
Paul Hunt: asks County Commissioners to consider stated goal of building tax base in order to reduce tax rates. Makes a point of tax rates being regressive. High tax rates tend to burden those who can least afford it. This year the County has chosen not to reduce the tax rate and he would like for commissioners to reconsider. The commissioners have started the budget process with a wish list instead of stewardship. Difficult at this late stage in the game to change it but he asks for commissioners to do so. Raises for County Judge, full supplement for County Atty, these are examples of losing sight of that goal. Please reconsider.
Commissioners comments: Judge says that the way the County has grown in the last four years there eat more expenses; airport manager, facilities manager, OMB, road and bridge director, etc. there are more salaries, the County is growing and these people are needed. To keep them we have to face that it's over $165,000 extra dollars added just there. We are not reducing salaries or benefits.
White says that accounting is getting better and better and actuals are more reflected. A lot of these better numbers reflect higher expenses than we thought we had. Still a significant deficit. Judge says in new additions to depts it's over $350,000 in that alone. Judge wishes we could give employees a raise. We will be working with bare bones next year.
Hunt asks for further discussion. Granted. None of the salaries that were mentioned are new to the budget; they were in the previous budget. Increases in some depts are expected. Place where the increases really are are in non-departmental expenses and parks. Dramatic increases. Says spending has grown there, commissioners should look at those places first, best place to look.
Judge says we actually looked at actuals and what they found is that actuals are way higher than previous budgets accounted for.
Aranda says that in previous years they reduced the tax rate by a bit. Yes, that was great. But how much did we use in reverse revs last year. Hunt says final 2015 budget used about $60,000 in reserves. Aranda says that right now they are looking at spending around $400,000 in reserves. Something is not right here, he is disturbed about this. Wishes we had started with 2015 budget and added new funds conservatively. He sees a slippery slope in tapping reserves. We need to focus on what we have and that's it. We have done this before, but were at least able to lower the tax rate. Something is not right; we could do better, we don't have to spend all this money. Everyone is asking for a lot of money and it's not there.
Hernandez asks about reserves again, Hunt makes a case that last year's budget ADDED $60,000 to reserves last year. Even with that they were able to reduce tax rates.
Hunt says that what he has seen this year is a a lack of attention to revenues. Frances asks which revenue sheet he is referring to with regard to 2015 budget. Where is the reserve line? Hunt says that budget spending was $60,000 less than expenses budgeted. Policy had been stated before budget process started. Estimated 10% reduction in departmental spending and contribute to savings and reduce tax rate. Not every budget had to go down by 10% and we were able to keep salaries in line plus reduce tax rate and contribute to reserves.
Hunt says focusing on parks and non-departmental expenses could balance this budget. Portion of revenue sheet are missing; e.g. State road lateral funds. You should have more money here than you do, and the spending outside of those two depts is not that different.
Hernandez says they were trying to give Presidio EMS $37,000, more to fire dept. Parks went up by about $80,000, road and bridge more or less than same. They were being optimistic, now it looks a little different. Unsure of revenue lines, he is a little worried. Has talked to Katie and Patty and is unsure.
Hunt says he believes that revenue lines are not complete, attention to revenues was addressed late in the game.
Hernandez says we budgeted for that but we never got it. Hunt disagrees, it was awarded but never spent, could be claimed and paid for reimbursement for projects. Specific one time program, possibly available again. Things are a little different now. Might be passing this up, did not take advantage of it last year.
Hunt says it's hard to separate the tax rate and budgeting in discussion.
Aranda asks if there is a list of budgets they can reduce or work with. Asks Patty Roach what she suggests for this commissioners court to do. Time is running out.
Patty says that she emailed an analysis to them; an apples to apples comparison of last year's budget with this new one. Highlighted budgets that increased over ten percent. Options are to cut budget or tap reserves or a combination of both. She thinks there is about $600,000 in M&O reserves with another approx $650,000 in jail reserves. Makes her nervous, not that much. Says state salary supplements are for those depts, not really negotiable.
Hernandez says he has a really big problem with using reserves to balance budget.
Patty says 354,000 was withdrawn from jail reserves to balance budget in 2015.
Aranda wants to know how much revenue we got if we used 354,000 out of reserves. We are getting an extra $415,000 this year on tax dollars. Patty says we have to go on what we know we have now; based on what we actually see collected. Some revenue projections from 2015 were high, actuals reflect lower numbers. Want to be a little conservative on these numbers. She feels good about the numbers we have now, thinks they are conservative, reasonable.
Some grants we might get are not in this budget but right now we have no grants, could be added later.
Aranda asks if reimbursable monies from Stonegarden of $245,000 has been accounted for. Patty says this has been reimbursed, not new money, it has been reimbursements from previous expenses, budgets.
Judge calls order, says one more comment and try to close hearing.
Hunt says that the Stonegarden reimbursements actually come out of reserves. Reimbursements re-funded to reserves. Hunt still says that revenue attention is lacking. Says that he dealt with this as well. A lot of times County does not look into why some monies don't come in. We pay our bills but sometimes don't collect on our own accounts receivable. Need to pay more attention. As for the salary supplements, those go to the County and not paid directly to the official. State recognizes that some departments are burdened by the State.
Judge asks whether Hunt has received full supplement. Hunt says he received a salary, included parts of both, but amount was determined by commissioners , not determined by State of Texas.
Nieto says Judge and commissioners need to keep in mind the public safety, preservation of human life, dignity of residents in the County when figuring budget. This should be a priority, the future is bright for the County but right now we're waiting on it. Resources will eventually be available. Commissioners should take every resident into account, not just people in the 2 most populated areas.
Motion to adjourn at 9:56. Unanimous.
5 minute break.
Reconvene at 10:04.
Announcement from Judge:
Public comments may be made now, there will not be any more comments after Public Comments period. No more during Commissioners Court; discussion only between commissioners and called upon department heads.
Otherwise we will never finish the meeting.
At this time public comments are to be made
AG Agent Jessie Lea Schneider.
Addressing car allowance line item reduction. Going through original contract from 2008. Indicating provisions from State and Presidio County. Terms are. Part of acceptance of position and have never been raised. Usage of car allowance; in county site visits, transporting 4H students. Gives a list of programs that have been offered and completed in Presidio a County. Includes programs offered to Presidio.
Numerous programs on the list.
Says she revised her budget to reflect a 3% reduction since last meeting. $1200 reduction. Please reinstate car allowance, she is dependent on it, uses her own car, has never exceeded a budget. Thank you. Provides copy of presentation.
Rod Ponton: DA 83rd District.
Pecos County budget is much reduced. Requesting more assistance from Presidio County. Cut his budget by $126,000. Cut by about 40%. Brewster County has agreed to raise their contribution by $30,000. Asking for are from Presidio County. Will have to lay off an employee in Alpine if Presidio County does not raise rate from $41,000 to $71,000.
Alpine office handles Presidio, Jeff Davis and Brewster Counties. Would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Carlos Nieto: again, representing City of Presidio. $567,682.67 was citizens inside Presidio City Limit contribution to Presidio County budget. Requesting 26% of contribution to be returned in services (EMS, library, fire, parks, etc). when you have to shoulder what we have to shoulder in Presidio with no help from the federal government it is very difficult. We also need a clerk's representative here; we have to travel 120 miles. For those of us who can afford to travel, no problem. For elders and indigent it is not a possibility. Please remember that we need it and we need it now.
No other public comments:
No announcements from Judge.
Commissioners announcements: training in Study Butte was great, says White. Learned a lot, Aranda and White were there; wishes they could go to more
schools. So educational, and we need more training.
Budget workshop:
Judge calls for AG extension agent budget review. Pg 27
Will cut $600 from office supplies; cutting $600 from travel and training. Jessie says she goes to five required training so per year. Registration fees for each training.
Car allowance re-added at $9600. Total 32,420.39 for AG budget.
Aranda says that we got the 3% and it's fair.
District Attorney's budget: pg 11
White says we're going right back to what we were doing before. Unsure if this is the right way to do this. Judge says she is addressing these two budgets since the dept heads are here. Will go to do "what we need to do" after this.
Hernandez asks about the 3% cut and how that is calculated exactly. Katie says not every entity can cut 3%. Hernandez says does this reflect a 3% cut in budgeted or actual? Katie says this is hard because numbers from last year are not necessarily reflected in 2015 budget. Judge says this is a good point. They use AG agent's budget. An example. Real totals are represented, that means that actual budget numbers are higher despite the 3% cut. Judge says it's important to go by actuals even if there is not a cut. Overall AG budget went up $900 after cuts. Maybe it's too late to bring this up but this explains some of our problems. White suggests that we take Patty Roach's comments and start addressing what Patty Roach recommends.
Do all that and the go through non-departmental and cut, and the. Add back to these depts only if there is a surplus after big cuts. Doing it backwards right now.
Judge says yes, let's do that.
Patty Roach says she will help, cautions Commissioners that they will not be able to see the forest through the trees. Minutia will drive you crazy, won't make a difference.
Ponton asks if they can go through his budget first, Judge says no interjections, court will continue on without interruptions or public comments.
$323,000 deficit
Patty says that certain departments will cut M&O, other depts will not. Depts such as technology, courthouse security, abandoned vehicle fund donot affect M&O. Deficit is an M&O problem.
Aranda asks for assistance and suggestions on what changes they can do. Need help to get through this.
Patty says that she highlighted all budgets that exceeded ten thousand in increases.
Road and Bridge
Airports (not RAMP grant)
Jail (with regard to M&O contribution from reserves)
White brings up office expense in Sheriffs Dept. They also budgeted some items from dispatch fund and from abandoned vehicle fund.
Aranda wants to touch on highlights from Patty.
First up is County Judge budget
Salary supplement from State: $10,200. Office supplies up. Salary increase affects benefits, FICA, etc. communication up. 12,000 total increase. Hernandez wants to know if we asked her to cut three percent from 2015 or from real numbers. Judge says she took off 2000 for machinery and travel. 4000 less. Hernandez says it's still $12,000 extra. FICA and retirement contribution is from County. 1,163.00 county contribution. Hernandez gets clarification from Patty on county vs State numbers on salary. Can we do anything here? Aranda says if she's willing to share she can do that; there's nothing we can do.
County/District Clerk has increased $17,000. Slight increase in deputies and assistants. Insurance- adding two employees to insurance. Full time employees had not opted for County insurance. Opting in this year; no new employees.
Professional services (software for jury system and e-file is mandated; 2 new computers), communications. Aranda asks how much they have to pay for elections. Virgie says judges get $11/hr, clerks get $9.50. Amendment election in Nov, primaries in March, usually a runoff in elections during July. Next year this number can go down a bit. Patty says this fits the historical pattern. Virgie says that otherwise she has cut her budget. White has a question about equipment and software purchases. State statute e-filing mandate equipment. Virgie says she has no choice about this. Judge would like her to look at a cheaper software option in the future. More questions from Commissioner Hernandez about software, computers. Patty says some expenses in the past were not coded properly.
Aranda says it's time to move on since extra fees are required by State. Patty is asked for opinion, she says she agrees.
Non-departmental: White says to skip, come back to it since it will be dramatically cut.
County Auditor: budget set by District Judge, no changes. Patty says she will likely have only one assistant. Budget is court-ordered, so unsure if the budget can be changed on paper.
County Tax Office. Increased $16,000. Salaries for deputies and assistants. Plus FICA and medical. Communications. Travel and training-requesting more training at $11,000 from $6,000. Judge asks why. Norma says mandatory workshops for employees. Election related items account for some. Repairs and maintenance- what are actuals asked Judge. Actuals are $776 this year 500+ year before says Patty. Employees- one has been moved from part time to full time. Nowhere else to cut. Norma had cut $8000 from professional services, down to 27,000 from $35,000. Changing training to $6000 and fuel at $5000. Total stays the same.
Facilities manager/maintenance:
Pages 18,19,20,21
Courthouse , annex, parks north, parks south
White says number for courthouse should be reduced by 17,000+. Cobos says he wants to start off his office. Office supplies should be reduced to $500 says Judge. White reiterates reducing whole budget by $17,000 plus. If we don't start making cuts we're never going to get out of here. In reality we have to start making some good cuts.
Patty says utility budget for courthouse floats around $11,000 per year for the last three years. These are real numbers, consistent. Plus annex at about $10-14,000. Totals between 18,500 and 26,500 for two years prior respectively. Judge asks if. Should do $24,000. Yes.
Equipment lease has gone down. Repairs and maintenance. 24,000 this year, last year $17,000. Hernandez wants to know how much it costs to maintain Vizcaino and Roping arena/barn. Cobos says it's basically Sal's salary plus fuel and other expenses. Hernandez wants to know if anyone uses the park. Cobos explains that the soccer club uses it, baseball fund raisers sometimes, citizens use it for fun, etc.
Cobos says that $8000 worth of invoices have come in recently and have not yet been paid. Bringing total to $31,000 for courthouses maintenance. Hernandez says we have to start making cuts now, none have been made so far. White says we need to start right now, right from the bottom line. Hernandez says that everyone will have justification, without any exceptions. Judge says we can't cut utilities, but we have new equipment and expenses. Cobos says that with the $2500 budgeted for county courthouse air conditioning we are not expecting a major problem. Aranda says obviously we are having a hard time, wants to cut everything an extra percent to 4%. Patty says that amounts to $31,000 only. White says ten percent. Hernandez says the problem was cutting three percent over the wish list. Patty says one problem is that many departments have overspent their budget and cuts were based on three percent of actuals. Old budget numbers were just numbers, reality is applied differently.
Patty says parks has gone up $82,000. $23,000 is because Sal is now in Parks and not Road and Bridge, but everything else has gone up. Maintenance contract has gone up on courthouse AC. Capital Outlay machinery and equipment for courthouse. Referring to pumps for cooling system. Aranda says that maybe as we go through the year we can create budget amendments to move lines around, but for now we can remove it. Make adjustments as needed. Whits says we don't have enough money to budget for "what ifs". Hernandez says that for example Virgie's budget wish list came out with an extra $40,000. She cut from that and she's still $32,000 over last year. Virgie says she didn't have a wish list, she only budgeted what she needed to be compliant with State mandates. Hernandez says he is just suing her budget as an example, the three percent cut was based on the wrong set of numbers. Patty agrees.
Discussions involving earlier different budget ideas.
White says that at the end of the day all the added monies are going to have to be cut.
Judge says that we have to make the County work. Multiple conversations.
Judge says these are real numbers. Hernandez says that in his house if he wants to save money he cuts his expenses. Conserves resources.
White says that as we gain fiduciary responsibility we are going to have more resources, things will get better but this year is the hardest one. We have to cut everywhere now and things will improve.
Cobos says we have to budget for the two contracts we have for the HVAC contract and elevator contract. Patty reiterates that Parks, road and bridge and non-departmental have seen the biggest increases.
Multiple conversations. Cobos remains insistent that there is no room for cuts in his departments. Things will need repairs, replacement. Patty says Courthouse Annex budget has gone up much more than courthouse budget. Maintenance supplies, professional services, utilities up, equipment. Overall $14,000 on that budget as an increase. White says to cut $14,000.
Judge proposes courthouse budget cuts- cut $3500 from maintenance contracts. Cobos says that won't work. Frances says when they call here should she have them call Judge? Judges says yes. Maintenance supplies- machinery and equipment , zero it out. Utilities $24,000.
Contracts 6000 for HVAC, 3000 for elevator. Says he needs to talk about fire system contract. Estimates 1500. Judge says total is $9000. HVAC contract covers main courthouse only, not annex. 3 year contract. Total of 178,000
Annex cuts: maintenance supplies 4200 to 2000
Machinery and equipment: remove 5000 .
Utilities do not change
Repairs and maintenance. Nothing last year, Cobos says there was no budget. Patty odd not know what's been spent. Cobos is asked what has been spent. Has been charged to operating and maintenance supplies. 686 plus 2700 thus far for this year at annex. Patty asks about duplication possibly. Cobos says there's a lot to do. Roof repairs, water heater, food bank building, AC units.
Judge cuts repairs and maintenance to $6000. Carpets will need to be replaced, leaking water made carpets moldy says Cobos. Judge says $6000.
Total down to $66,016.46
Have cut $17,700 total from courthouses thus far.
Only budgets they have cut so far today.
Total cuts $9,300 to overall.
Need $314,000
Parks: pg 20-21,22
Includes parks south and Redford Center.
Redford Center is a new budget line.
Parks south did not increase by much with addition of Redford Center
Parks North is up $41,000. $23,000 is from moving employee from R&B to parks.
White says to cut parks north $18,000 and leave others alone.
Katie says that employee makes total increase by $35,000. Revenue projections are in question. Katie says that revenues were projected low. Collecting about 7000 in good months. Winter months are slower. Comfortable number is about $50,000 says Patty.
White says it also depends on how hard our golf workers work. Katie says MGA still owes county $6700 according to their books, which are the only books kept re golf course prior to this coming year. Revenue number is adjusted up from $25,000 to $45,000 proposed by Judge.
Operating supplies: up $1700. Why asks Judge to Cobos. Cobos says that MGA was covering some of those, as was Ernest. Now is County's bill. Actuals were $8000+. Katie says it was for fertilizer. White wants to know why all the maintenance supplies etc are split between all the budget lines. Cobos says that Ernest will start keeping books for golf course, account for monies, all things MGA used to do. Needs a computer, programming, etc. Cobos wants to upgrade to automation. Budget does not include software. Ernest thinks he may need a new mower at $2500. Computer not budgeted unless it comes out of operating supplies. White says that Ernest can drive past Cobos office on the way to work and use his computer.
Virgie says that she can give Ernest a computer since she has to replace two. Questions as to compatibility. Katie says it will work as does Virgie.
Repairs and maintenance actuals reflect upwards of $6000. Budgeted $9400 in this proposed. Communications- zero experienced, now at $2000. Pick up phone bill, add credit card machines, internet.
Cannot cut.
Utilities: budgeted at $28,000. At $24,000 now without last bill.
Equipment maintenance. Same
Cut $3100 total but increased revenues by $20,000.
Parks South:
Labor at $10,000. What is it? Who is it? Hernandez was using a guy to maintain the fields. Patty does not know where he is paid out of. Hernandez says it was about 6000-7000 charged to Redford. Leaving budget the same
Redford- new budget, 18,900 total. In total south parks spent about 18,000. This year totals are $20,000 plus $18,900.
38,900 totals. No cuts. Hernandez says some of the monies and supplies came from road and bridge, some were reimbursed.
Hernandez questions north parks spending again. Patty goes over it again with commissioners, brief recap of expenses.
Total increase of $36,000 in parks total even after revenue additions, $3100 cuts.
Hernandez says he would rather cut some parks than EMS, etc.
White says we need to make all cuts possible.
Hernandez would rather have $10,000 extra for EMS than for South parks. Asking to cut $10,000 from south parks in exchange for fewer cuts for Presidio EMS, fire, sheriff, etc. Wait until we talk about non-departmental. Judge says we should cut all we can, the. See what we need to cut insofar as contributions to agencies.
Vasquez agrees.
Sheriff's Office Budget:
$20,000 for south reserves is included. Put in reserves line. Added to personnel costs.
Reserves will be Contract Labor, not subject to benefits, etc.
Patty advises regarding contract labor and definitions of contract labor. Amount of control over duties, etc, use of tools, supplies, equipment, etc. she thinks that these workers for Sheriff may be required to be part time employees.
White says this is temporary measure until we get things straightened out. Patty recommends budgeting for benefits, etc. judge wants to take reserves out of Sheriffs office and put it in non-departmental. Patty says that non-departmental should be for things that cannot be assigned to a department.
Aranda says this is not too much money, Stonegarden kicks back in, this situation changes.
Office supplies: cut to $1500
Operating supplies: actual 21,068 used this year; Judge asks what it is. Joel says flashlights, batteries, etc. does not include fuel. Anything they might use in the field. Traffic cones, etc. actual 21,000 for 2015. 2014 $8,000. 2013 $21,000. Joel says this includes some things for the offices in Presidio and Marfa. Katie says some items for administrating Stonegarden may be included. Joel agrees. Hernandez asks of the city of Marfa provides money for some of this. Danny says yes.
Aranda asks about Stonegarden supplies; Joel says things are changing with Stonegarden, unsure of what could be covered in the future but some things have been in the past. Aranda asks of the Sheriff anticipates spending all the money on operating supplies. Sheriff says he can't predict the future, unsure. Judge asks what the City of Marfa contract provides for. Sheriff says he has not received it, does not know. Patty says that $117,000 is budgeted. Joel asks if Stonegarden is in this budget or if it can or will be added later. Patty says it's not in there but if it comes up it will be added.
Aranda asks about fuel. Last year actuals $16,000. Proposing $35,000. Aranda says that's fine. Communication at around $33,000 actual 2015. Travel and training $2700, actuals $2900. Judge would like to cut it to $3000. Yes.
Repairs and maintenance: $5400 for 2015, $13,000 2014. Judge says $5500.
Equipment lease: actual $1300. Last year $2000. Accurate number at around $1900.
Capital Outlay: machinery and equipment: computers, one for south and north. Computers are very old- around ten years old. Judge says a good computer is about $1800 each. Sheriff asks about installation, etc. need printers too. Judge says numbers look accurate in that case. Leave it there at $4000 with $500 in professional services.
Dispatch: White asks about revenue. How did ex come up with $12,744 for dispatch? Who set that rate. How was it determined and when is it due to be reviewed? Mentions pay raise for dispatch that was given, should try to pass on charges to other entities. Has there been a adjustment? Sheriff says not really. Judge says contracts will be reviewed next month and can be reviewed. White advocates for raising costs to reflect greater expenses.
Judge goes through other line items. Patty says expenditures have remained fairly constant.
Judge says that Sheriff wants $10,000 out of dispatch budget to use and should say where and what it is for. Sheriff says he can't say for now, but if he doesn't use it it goes back to dispatch. White says that's not the way it works. Patty says these monies are budgeted out of general fund despite having separate bank accounts.
Last Sheriff fund is abandoned vehicles, which is separate from general and balance can carry over year to year. No affect on bottom line.
Break for lunch at 12:30; return at 1:15.
Reconvene at 1:33
Road and Bridge, pg 30
Revenues at $330,000.
Deputies and assistants should still be the same as last year.
Katie says figures based on actuals. Some departments actuals were greater than budgeted; some departments gave small raises.
Aranda says that road and bridge would like to lease/purchase a dump truck and a water truck. Dump trucks we have are from the early 1970's and worn out. Water truck is the same. Aranda says we want to purchase new equipment incrementally, spread out payments over e next 4-5 years.
White says that Ruben and Eloy are interested in selling the old stuff for a few dollars, can offset some of the cost. Some of these are salvage value, others may be able to get a little more.
Budgeted $40,000 in line 6 for down payments on truck equipment.
White says that road and bridge gets the most calls, most complaints, most compliments. Hernandez says that 6-7 years ago road and bridge kept the County afloat and money from TXDOT paid for regular bills. No equipment purchased, utility bills had to be paid first.
Aranda says this is a long term project, try to make some progress every year.
Judge asks how much down payment would be. Aranda says that the $40,000 includes some payments, not just down payment.
Ruben Carrasco enters meeting (head of road and bridge and capital projects)
White says this is not the area in which to cut road and bridge. Patty says that operating supplies actuals are lower than budgeted. Katie says that doesn't reflect everything, some added later. Says his budget is close to actuals.
Actuals for utilities is $896. Anything missing? Ruben says new yard in So County will add to budget, new building, security lighting.
Equipment maintenance: went up. Using more money to maintain equipment. Might go down if new equipment purchased. Most money is going towards fixing very old equipment.
Judge says there's nowhere to cut if everyone agrees on the $40,000 toward down payments. Patty asks how much new vehicles (Aranda clarifies it would be used equipment but newer) would offset maintenance costs. Discussion about worn out equipment.
Leaving budget as is.
Capital Projects:
Ruben is dept head.
Budget went down this year by $17,000. Judge wants to know who is labor in Cap Projects. One part time welder named David Serrano from Presidio. Finishing barn at So County lot. Operating supplies budgeted at $4000. Basically zero actuals.
$22,000 in capital outlay for new yard. Building materials, etc.
Aranda says once this is done this cost basically goes away.
Airports budget:
Increase of over $10,000 does not include RAMP grant funds. County subsidizes airports to the tune of $121,000 from general fund. Whits asks Chase of fuel numbers are solid. Chase says it's conservative but we don't have enough years of numbers to get a really good idea. White says that the changes we are making should make a positive impact on sales. There is a person in the budget to sell fuel. Current attendant is paid on a per gallon commission. Most people will hustle, this person does not really hustle. Working on adjustments to system. So far no change to that work situation.
Patty asks about the match for the Capital Improvement Project. Is that the max level? Chase says not necessarily but that TXDOT likes to get close enough to not go over.
Both projects will be completed this year. LED option for lights is more expensive but still comes in under budget. Cheaper long term option for energy and maintenance costs. 10% match. County's match is $80,000. odd not spend all CIP money from last year, City of Marfa paid $25,000, Presidio MDD contribution as well.
Chase added monies for RAMP grants- $10,000. Hangar doors included. White wants to know whee he can cut $20,000 from budget. Chase says that utilities can maybe be adjusted since actuals are unknown and runway lights should have it go down. Marfa utility number could drop to $9000 from 11,000. Patty provided numbers. Chase says that in his view we may be able to drop a few lines down a bit but actuals are unknown since things are not being charged to correct budget lines. Chase wants to still maximize RAMP grants since every dollar spent gets one from the State and the items it covers helps increase traffic by increasing airport quality.
Chase says he could probably cut $20,000 if he knows actual numbers.
Hernandez wants to cut $10,000 from Marfa airport RAMP grant. Chase says he would prefer not, but it would still result in a new increase for Marfa airport RAMP funds over last year. Presidio MDD chipped in $25,000 for maintenance.
City of Marfa chipped in monies for CIP.
Travel and training: judge wants to cut to $2000. Cut to $3000 from $4000 last year Chase says. OK.
Hernandez says he wants to change RAMP for Marfa from $50,000 to $40,000. Chase says that he can probably still do hangar doors with that, will lose a few other things but that's Ok. Maybe City of Marfa will come through with some HOT money again.
Total RAMP adjusted from $100,000 to $90,000. Vasquez wants Chase to look into security cameras for both airports. Chase says he will, prices are going down RAMP monies can pay for that.
After cuts overall deficit is now $276,000
Pg 35
Jail has increased by $35,000 on expense side. Last year jail transferred $350,000, this year budgeted to transfer $300,000.
As Budgeted, even with transfer there will still be a surplus of around $125,000 for this year.
White asks about transfers and head count. Head count seems to be trending downwards. Asks Gracie about head count. Today is 58. White wants to know about trends. Gracie says everywhere is trending down. From 100 head to 50 head is about half revenues; we need to be cautious.
Aranda wants to clarify that we are taking $300,000 from jail reserves and still short $276,000.
White brings up cooling system at jail, investigating costs associated with replacing and upgrading that to refrigerated air.
Hernandez asks about capital outlay cuts. This new budget already reflects cuts of around $200,000 in capital outlay. Not replacing air conditioning this year.
Training costs of $10,000. Gracie and Sgt Fox go to training and costs per person is about $5000 for the year each; more than one training, required, updates, etc.
Judge wants a better breakdown of training. Gracie gives some numbers. Aranda clarifies numbers with Gracie. $10,000 covers four trainings for each. Judge wants to know about required trainings. Gracie says that all four sergeants have to go to classification trainings. In Corpus Christi.
Hernandez asks about additional costs for insurance. Has gone up, extra staffing as jail was understaffed. Insurance was under budgeted last year as well.
21 employees including Gracie.
Hernandez says that Pecos County is having employees pay part of their insurance. This is where counties are moving towards.
Medical waste disposal is zeroed out as contract with Marfa Clinic covers it already.
Prisoner board: actual $177,895 through Sept 1st.
Discussion about jail tax note. 2019 is when jail is paid off, County is 600,000-700,000 away from being finished. Then can apply for new bond for interest and Sinking fund.
Leases: software for booking. Xerox, security cameras, etc.
jail is paying Sheriffs utility bills, adds $3000 to jail budget.
Operating supplies includes repairing things. Lots of repairs says Gracie and cleaning supplies, shower curtains, mats, etc. Actuals for 2015 were approx $30,636. Projected to be 60,000 for next year, why? Judge recommends $40,000, Vasquez says $35,000. Ok.
Vasquez wants to get the estimate for air conditioning, does not want for the jail to get shut down, could be detrimental to County.
Total surplus added after transfer to M&O this year= $151,000 as per budget.
Jail population being lower does not substantially impact costs since jail still needs to be fully staffed. Jail population fluctuates.
Gracie says that she has to have 2 jailers for pop under 98, 3 if over. 24 hour service. Jail has ten jailers total. Work 12 hour shifts. Have to watch overtime issues as well. Not a lot of room for error.
End of discussion.
"That's where the problem is" says Patty.
Judge says non-departmental has gone up quite a bit. Unemployment and worker's comp have been moved from individual budgets into non-departmental. Had been double posted. Actually comes out of non-departmental.
Patty says if you take that out the increase is $212,000 over last year. Actuals. Many of these expenses had not been accounted for.
Katie says professional services included RCI asset analysis people.
Indigent defense: actual $45,386. A couple of big cases. Attorneys charged a lot.
$15,000 grant from State included in revenues already. Number can fluctuate.
Virgie says there is a big jury trial scheduled for November.
Includes County Court cases. Judge Ferguson often denies applicants. Hernandez wants to change it to $35,000. Changed.
White takes $7000 off of water district.
Utilities: $3000 in question included lights.
Auditor expense: auditor says he may charge a bit less this year because of OMB. Leaving number at $40,000
Juries: $6000
Autopsies: actual at $33,000. One still not paid for. $22,000 in 2014, $26,000 in 2015. Judge says that DA office advised judges if there should be a question to contact DA's office. White cuts it to $30,000. Some discussion regarding jurisdiction, responsibilities.
White says it's time to cut everything outside of the Courthouse. Can come back and adjust it later. Marfa EMS- cut in half to $18,000.
Vasquez says he would rather not cut either EMS. Aranda doesn't want to change either Marfa or Presidio EMS. We go back and forth but should not cut it.
White mentions deficit. Vasquez says he would rather take it out of reserves than cut. He sees it not to be fair that cities have the full burden. White says let's keep going and see what we have. Put that $36,000 back on.
Probation service: requested extra $12,000. Judge told them it will stay the same, they have to let someone go, reduce expenses.
Appraisal District: judge wants to know what we have to ascertain we approved for them. Judge says she is sorry we approved a raise as part of appraisal district budget, does not approve of it now.
Aranda and Hernandez says that they asked for it because they thought County employees were going to get a raise. Judge says Marfa ISD did not approve their budget. Nieto says every entity except for Marfa ISD approved budget.
Aranda says he has regrets. Hernandez says we already approved it, let's move on.
Insurance: general liability. Patty says the actual number is smaller. Commissioners raised employee vision and ambulance service benefit. 89 employees, cost less than $14,000 total for some really good benefits according to White. Katie says it's just shy of $15,000.
Katie says to reduce number by $10,000.
State Comptroller: Katie says we can lower it, probably to $160,000 based on actuals.
Presidio library at $5000. Leave it in, says Judge
ESD consulting at $10,000. White says to cut to nothing. Aranda says do not cut it at all, we need to do something now about this. White agrees but he says when he went to school TAC will help do the ESD for free. Multiple conversations going on.
Aranda says that he still wants to leave it there. Judge says take it out or reduce it to three. Aranda brings up travel and consulting. Judge says she thinks she can get companies to come to us to set it up, run it. Hernandez says if we don't use it the money will still be there. Judge says that she had calls at the beginning of the year from a utility consultant and he came from far away to present and hoe him to help. Judge says make it $5000, we need to make cuts. Aranda still says that this person is going to be spending a lot of money on travel. $5000 going to gone just like that. How much was S&B? Judge says about a million dollars but it was reimbursed by grant. Vasquez says he would lie, to put it at five. Judge puts it at five.
Presidio EMS at $100,000. Vasquez and Aranda say leave it.
Marfa and Presidio fire depts at $22,500. Leave it
Food pantries, historical commission.
PIPA at $16,500.
Going down list, no cuts...
Patty says we still have a 204,000 deficit left to go.
White says we're nearly there (joking).
Hernandez asks Patty what she thinks about non-departmental. She says you increased Presidio EMS by 33,000, fire depts by $15,000, historical commission, pipa, more.
Judge says that part of payments to EMS organizations will include data for ESD setup.
White says that there should be financial reports from any organization that gets County funds. Needs to happen going forward.
Vasquez asks about pauper burials- cremations, policy. Beebe answers.
Whits says "Now what? There's nothing more to cut.."
Aranda asks about law library fund.
Multiple conversations.
Patty and Katie consulting with each other on side. Judge discussing with Hernandez. White and Aranda discussing problems.
White says after this year things will straighten out but this year it's going to be painful to get it straight.
Aranda talking about reserves. White says he doesn't think you can spend it, only 58 prisoners in jail, losing half the income right now. Guy into reserves is bad business.
Hernandez asks Patty about revenues, are ex seeing all of them? What about tomato plant leases? Aranda asks same. Katie says they go into airport funds.
Annual payments for rent at $1295.95 monthly. Goes into airport fund.
$1000 month from border patrol for shooting range.
$15,541 yearly into airport funds from tomato farm. Patty says Chase is on top of this.
Can we raise the rent? Asks Hernandez.
White says that FAA requires airport money to be reinvested in airports to get grants.
$204,000 still needs to be cut.
White says he's into larger cuts than $500 here and there. Hernandez says "but nobody's listening to you"
Patty says that 5% additional cuts can make it work. Aranda says "Really?"
Judge says budgets in the courthouse are down to the bone. Patty says 5% could be very hard to do given that some departments have cut everything they can.
Patty says that there are some options, can go back if projected revenues are low, and re-state but that may not work.
Katie says non-departmental is still up substantially.
Hernandez wants to cut high budgets additional 10%.
Patty crunches some numbers.
White brings up DA budget; We never went back to cover that.
Judge crunches her own budget. Cuts her own supplies down a bit, says that that's about it.
Hernandez says that by cutting what he says we can get to $60,000 and that is workable.
Katie says that $200,000 increase is in non-departmental. You all have not made cuts there.
Patty says if you take 7% out of highlighted high budgets you can get there. Judge says most of these are already cut out.
Katie says cut all outside departments by 8% and you get there. All county departments cut their budgets, outside agencies did not cut. Not fair to employees and dept heads.
Hernandez says really? 8% to EMS and fire dept.
Judge says if everyone can just hang on for one more year we'll be OK next year. Hernandez wants to know if no increases for outside agencies over last year will that make it?
Katie consults with Patty, gets us down to $90,000. Hernandez asks Presidio EMS if they can live with $67,500, same as last year. Marco Baeza says maybe for one more year...
Aranda says let's take more from reserves.
White says that if they keep doing this it will break the County.
Judge asked Presidio employees if they will get raise. Projected 3% raise. Judge asks if we can wait.
Hernandez says he does not want to wait.
Patty as it's not fair to cut 5% across the board. Other people have cut all the way down, it's not right to punish the departments who gave you the real thing the first time around where some did not.
Hernandez asks if she feels that way even about the highlighted departments. Yes says Patty.
Aranda still wants to cut the additional 5% across the board. Hernandez wants to know where Patty thinks the cuts should be.
White says that the responsibility for this by law is with the Commissioners. The excess spending is in non-departmental.
Patty says the outside funding sources back to 2015 levels brings you back down $56,500, leaving you with $147,000 deficit. That's kind of it, guys.
Vasquez says we should tap reserves beyond that.
Judge calls to order as multiple conversations are being held.
Judge clarifies how much money we need to make up for. Still $147,000+.
Patty says reserves will be approx $600,000 at end of year estimated.
Hernandez still says we need to cut 200,000 as cuts have not been made yet.
White says we are not showing good fiduciary responsibility.
Multiple conversations.
White says we're hurting our own people and saving those who do not have anything to do with courthouse operations.
Aranda says he has regrets about how this budget period started.
Patty says there were inaccuracies last year that made things look better last year than they were.
Hernandez asks White what he thinks. White says Hernandez is the one squirming, not him. White says that you're going to have to do more than the 5% on EMS and fire.
Aranda and Hernandez want 5% across the board and 3% on non-departmental.
Katie says why not just cut 8% on the non-departmental on the bottom line.
Multiple discussions
Hernandez asks for clarification.
Katie says that they still have not cut outside organizations. Katie says to roll back all those to 2015 and then take 8% after that.
Hernandez now understands that you go back to 2015 and then cut further, just like all other departments.
Hernandez says that fire and EMS is taking care of County.
Marco Baeza says Presidio EMS budget is over $500,000. No room to cut.
Virgie says you're getting a 3% raise! that's not a cut.
Marco says they're not sure about a raise, they may cut water and sewer. Judge wants to leave Presidio EMS at $100,000 and cut everyone else except for Marfa EMS. Vasquez says yes. Patty says that if you leave EMS where it is you have a $24,000 cut. Judge says this is unless you really do want to cut the 8%.
Marco Baeza asks how much deficit is. Judge says $204,000. All departments cut.
Nieto says that utilities and fuel can be reduced by using pool buying power. Shop out communication costs for bids.
Judge says we're working on this, Patty and Judge talked about it a lunch. More discussion.
White says we have an immediate problem that need to be addressed by next Monday.
Judge wants to go through non-departmental line by line again. Nieto brings up golf course, finding an operator. Find it by Monday? Katie asks. Nieto says it's not fair.
Patty says if you shave another 8% off what you've already done that gets you to $128,000.
Hernandez still says where to take it out is a problem. Patty agrees.
"Where do you get it, if not out of every line." Hernandez says. Patty says you've already cut a few that don't have any room left.
Hernandez still says "where?"
Patty says you can make unrealistic cuts, but y're just playing with numbers if you do that, fooling yourself.
White says there are going to be extra expenses here and there that they haven't even thought about that they have to pay. Silence.
Aranda wants to cut 3% from the highlighted departments.
White is looking at Hernandez.
Hernandez wants to go back to Parks.
Judge asks Aranda if the old trucks can last one more year. Aranda says if we have to do it with the old ones we will, but EMS is more important. Hernandez says maybe not $40,000 but $20,000. Ok, we can do that. Down to $20,000 on capital outlay for new truck.
White says we need to cut parks as well.
Patty says cuts were already made in parks but still has a $56,000 increase not counting employee, who was classified elsewhere.
Hernandez wants to take $30,000 out of parks. Hernandez says out of Vizcaino budget. Take $20,000 out of parks north and $5,000 from Redford and $5,000 for Parks South. Judge says Redford Center is also for emergencies. It is designated as emergency shelter. $8000 from south parks, $2000 from Redford.
Hernandez says Jim can decide where north parks cuts come in, but it's $20,000 to cut. Jim says to cut it and department head can figure it out. Katie says ere's not a lot of space to cut after utilities and communications.
Virgie says that we all cut and that the DA did not cut. Aranda says he doesn't think DA will mind cutting 3% since we all cut. Some in the room disagree. Moving on...
Patty says that there really isn't room in north parks to cut after the basic bills. Hernandez says to cut ten percent from facilities and ten from parks north. Judge says that will get us into trouble with our bills. Judge says we should cut a little bit from all non- departmental lines.
White says to cut south parks to zero.
Judge calls for five minute break at 4:11 PM.
Reconvene at 4:33. Presidio Mayor John Ferguson has entered the meeting.
Judge says that when commissioners cut monies from the $60,000 in operating supplies, the shower curtains, mats are old, shoes wear out.
Patty says that federal jail commissary funds can cover some of those items. Frances asks if there sold be a budget sheet for that. Patty says probably yes, but has not yet been reconciled. Possibly around $30,000 in that fund.
Patty says that if we cut all depts listed earlier by 3% that gives you 130,000+.
Non-departmental at 6% would be around $194,000. Gets you out of red.
Would leave us balanced.
Judge says where are we going to do it.
Patty says we already have ten thousand from parks.
Have deficit of $174,000 right now.
Patty says if we returned non-county funding donations to 2015 levels it gives you 54,000+.
Patty: the 6% off non- departmental has not yet been assigned.
Judge says Sheriff has not cut 3% off budget. Equals $21,000 if we cut.
Judge says to go to Sheriff's budget. Aranda mentions they have increased his budget with the $20,000. Five hundred was cut earlier today.
Virgie asks where she is going to get another 3%?
White says he doesn't know but she has to do it.
Hernandez says department heads should make cuts and get them to commissioners by Friday. Katie says there has to be time to prepare it, must be done, turned in my tomorrow by Noon.
Hernandez wants to cut total dept numbers and let them worry about it later.
Judge says that she and Virgie are out of cuts.
Aranda wants to know what the options really are- are we going to have to get the reserves? Patty says that dept heads are not going to be able to go over anymore. That is the job of the County Auditor. There will be no exceptions. If commissioners cut real expenses that are actual, it does not serve a purpose to the County other than hurting it.
Patty gives updated budgets:
Non departmental is now $953,769.
Facilities maint: $246,380
Sheriff's office :739,193
County agent: 32,420
Parks: $169,808 increased golf revenue by $20,000
Road and Bridge: $467,878
Airports: $663,150, RAMP is $90,000
Jail: $1,477,558
M&O deficit of $174,000+
Hernandez wants to cut $74,000 more and take another $100,000 from reserves.
Get $20,000 extra from parks north.
Katie says there's no more to cut from north parks, must cut from south parks, as north has expenses relating to golf.
Hernandez wants to find twenty thousand between parks and facilities.
Hernandez says he needs to leave.
Patty reiterates what Lorenzo H has said.
Aranda says that they are going to have to work with the reserves at some level.
Patty says there are two types of reserves.
Jail reserves- about six hundred thousand total. Took 350,000 last year, have 300,000 budgeted so far.
Aranda says there are things we cannot cut, we have to wait on that pipeline to come in and things will be easier.
Aranda says take out $100,000 in reserves, Vasquez agrees.
Still have $74,000 in cuts to make even if you do this.
White says we have not cut the district court budget nor the district atty's budget. Judge says you can't touch district court.
Judge says to go to page 11, district attorney. Page 13. 3% cut is $1000.
White says to cut from $41,000 to $31,000. Aranda says that's a lot. Judge asks Virgie what she thinks.
Frances says that Rod has tried one jury trial in the last year.
Virgie says not much activity.
Judge says $35,000.
White says he is amazed that we will cut our own operations but not other outside operations.
Cut to $36,200.
Judge says that Hernandez has a good point that some budgets are being cut from the wish list and not the previous budget. County agent cut from wish list. Katie says she added from misc to line items. Judge wants to cut supplies. Eleven hundred dollars difference in supplies. Cut $800 in supplies.
Travel and training is high, judge wants to cut to $2000 like everyone else.
Aranda points out that she has car allowance and training budgets, wants to reduce training budget. Total additional cut $1200 since she had cut some earlier.
Judge wants to go to non-departmental to get $10,000 in cuts rather than out of north parks.
Page 6. Judges takes us there. Let's cut one thousand off of autopsies.
Patty recommends looking for law library funds dedicated in some other account.
Going to take some research. Unknown at this point. Law library is budgeted at $10,000. Katie says we have to spend it to be in compliance, must be available to public.
Cut DPS to $1500. Jeff Davis did the same. Judge says she is wrong sorry, can't cut DPS.
Autopsies down to $20,000.
Pauper burials reflect actuals.
Aranda wants to bring it down. Judge and Katie say there's no way to really do that.
Child welfare/advocacy - cut $500 each.
Food pantries- cut $500 each. White says the food pantry in Presidio is not active. White says nearly fifty thousand was spent. Judge says cut one thousand so if they start back up they still have $3500.
Marfa food pantry is very active, judge says we should cut
Aranda asks about county motor pool. Norma is using minivan. The GMC Terrain and the Taurus are both broken. Using van.
Aranda says it should be in her budget if she is using the van all the time.
Judge says Norma has five thousand for fuel in her budget, nothing for repairs and maintenance on a vehicle.
Judge says that on the $16,500 for PIPA there is still CBI funds. White points out that is a different budget. Ok, moving on, says Judge.
Vasquez wants to take $156,000 out of reserves and call it a day so that everyone can function.
Aranda says we have done all we can.
Aranda wants Patty's recommendation. She says she would take $50,000 out of jail and $104,000 out of M&O. Last year $350,000 was taken from jail.
Last year's budget was a deficit budget of $166,000. Would result in a lower deficit budget than the year before.
Patty reiterates that it is risky.
Commissioners seem to agree, at least Vasquez and Aranda. Hernandez has left meeting. White is not happy. Judge seems to be resigned.
Commissioners plan to fix it next year, do a better job, start earlier.
Katie says numbers were off last year to the tune of who knows; it hurt budget planning this year.
Take $350,000 from jail reserves and 104,000 from M&O reserves.
Judge Guevara says that tomorrow is deadline for agenda items for Monday meeting.
Aranda asks if there will be an adjustments workshop before adoption. Yes, says Judge.
Constable Coker has something to say.
Wants recording where request was made using Constable in Marfa for courthouse security where three commissioners voted against funding for south County annex security.
Finds it offensive especially since he trusted them and then vote was made in Marfa to exclude him and Courthouse Annex.
At least Hernandez voted against both. North Constable deserves more funding supposedly, may be a violation of law. Looking into it.
Stated for the record.
Everything will be above board, as a law enforcement officer he will make sure. If it needs to go to Court he will be there. He was not a big advocate of this, but when you turn around and give me a big slap in the face, it's an affront.
Aranda says meeting is not over, we have not finished, that's why I asked you to speak.
Aranda states that nobody else was getting a raise, looking for additional duties, work, could not justify in S County. Could still make a change, do it.
Judge clarifies that she was trying to be fair, made offer to commissioners about funding both offices.
Confusion on Aranda's part with regard to separate funds on this issue. Katie and Patty trying to explain. Says we need to be fair with Coker.
Aranda wants to be fair.
Judge brings up that his proposed budget was set for the maximum mandated number (25%). Vasquez says he was for it, Hernandez voted against both. Aranda reiterates that he wants to be fair.
Patty says that commissioners court has the power to do that, can fund it for only one year if it goes that way.
Aranda tells Coker to bring it to commissioners court Monday.
White motions to adjourn at 5:33 PM


Gretel said...

Yeah, pretty mind numbing, but I'm very appreciative to you for the info and your efforts. I have a suggestion for your posts but I'll send that separately. Thank you.

Gretel said...

Not for publishing: gender politics comment. This is in no way a criticism, only a suggestion. Could you, when referring to the women in your blog posts (for example, Patty Roach, Katie _____, and Virgie _____), use their last names similarly to when you refer to men? It’s a small thing, and I’m assuming you have great familiarity with them from day-to-day contact, but standardizing name use across gender would afford them the same respect as the gents. Thanks very much. And really, a herculean effort with these posts.