Friday, September 18, 2015

Presidio County Commissioners Court Budget Hearing 9/15/2015 Part IV

Continued from Part 3, this chronicles the last hour of this marathon meeting.

Also important: I just received an email and saw the public posting on the courthouse door that following the tax rate hearing Tuesday the 22nd in Presidio at 9 AM there will be an additional budget workshop before the final budget meeting and presumed approval of a Final Budget for 2016 at the meeting in Marfa on Monday the 28th (9 AM). It is worth mentioning that by the time of the meeting on the 28th the final budget proposal will have been published. The addition of another budget workshop on the 22nd gives the commissioners time to tweak the question marks covered in this meeting, and also gives citizens one last chance to voice their opinions.
There is a public comment period at the beginning of this meeting where the public is invited to comment for up to three minutes on items. Sign in is available at the meeting. Anyone can show up to comment and is not required to stay for the duration of the meeting to comment. This same rule applies to all commissioners court meetings and I would encourage anyone to show up with some brief, clear remarks about anything concerning County government or concerns within the County.

9/15/2015 Part IV

County AG Extension Agent's Budget:
pg 27

Jessie Lee Schneider
$12,053 salary, FICA, but no retirement, Retirement and insurance covered by State.
Car allowance- $9,200. Judge says "almost ten thousand dollars" White says " I've never seen that before"
Hernandez says she uses her own car. Judge says that budget line is something that Paul Hunt did.
Judge thinks that last year she may have gotten car allowance and also a set of tires later approved by Commissioners Court, apart from the car allowance. We can look into that, or we can cut it for now.
 We do not have her budget from the State; amounts unknown. She turned in same budget from last year, except upped her office supplies. She is at $439 actual on office supplies, maybe we could cut that a bit. Hernandez starts to talk about people being punished for not using their whole budget; it encourages people to spend when they don't need to. Sends the wrong message when we do that. White asks what are you supposed to do when you have a budget deficit. Back and forth on this.
Carlos Nieto says that we in Presidio don't see these folks that much; they don't reach out that often, we hardly ever see them. White says that he sees reports, looks like 4H in Presidio is pretty active.
Aranda asks if she gets car allowance. Katie says yes, it goes into paycheck. Multiple conversations about all this. Aranda wants to cut car allowance. We don't know how much she's getting paid; let's cut it for now, see what happens with pay later. White doesn't understand why it's added to pay on County side.
Judge asks if people want to keep car allowance, take it out, try to justify it, put it back later maybe? Hernandez says to put it to zero and then she can come back and justify it, we can restore it.
Aranda says this is touching salaries in a way, which is against this year's policy. argument about whether it does or not. Moving forward without car allowance...

Hernandez wants to look at the Parks- North and South.

Parks North: pg 20
Cobos is here- to the hot seat, Sam, says Vasquez. (laughter).
Cobos says that $5200 had been cut at the last meeting in Presidio which was more than 3% from the bottom line. Before that the Judge had already taken some out. Basically North Parks is pretty much the same budget as before but we no longer have the Marfa Golf Association to offset some of the costs.
White says that despite all this having a huge deficit makes this a better place to cut than EMS or Fire, etc.
Aranda says that he would like to go through each line one by one.
Cobos says that he has already gone through all this, cut what he can.
Beebe says that the proposed 2016 programs revenue (golf fees) is based on collections from MGA, and that sometimes payments were made over great periods of time, sometimes lesser periods of time, somewhat confusing sometimes, and according to those remittances two years of fees were around $50,000, which is what these numbers are based around. That being said, the numbers from the MGA are not necessarily so reliable and also they paid for other things before making remittances. Not an accusation, but revenue, even with same level of players, should be higher next year since expenses will come off after revenue numbers are accounted for. Could be around a $10,000 difference based on the numbers Beebe could recall seeing when City had golf course. This could offset the 82% increase in this department budget over last year.
Cobos says you can't go by that either because there have been some budget adjustments made so the bottom line number for 2015 is way short on losses to the County.
Hernandez suggests to give the golf course back to the City of Marfa (laughter)
Cobos says moving Salvador from Road and Bridge to Parks made a difference to salary items.
White says the difference between 2015 and 2016- the whole thing is different.
Cobos says that 30,000 plus is Salvador's.
Cobos says that on the bottom line for 2015 about $40,000 needs to be added to bring actual for 2015 up to $163,500. Current budget now. Cobos says that increase above that for 2016 is minimal.
Katie says actuals are $145,000, not $163,000. Hernandez asks about how deficit is calculated. Cobos says numbers from last year are wrong, actuals not represented. Cobos says it is $163,000 actuals but a lot of bills have not come in yet. Says that the budget for this year with all cuts, adjustments is slightly above actuals from last year.
Judge asks if salaries are accurate. Cobos says yes; after additional expenses that had been covered by MGA figured in under expense line are just about exactly the same.
Utility costs went up because cost of propane tank for clubhouse had not been figured in. This has been added. Utility expense line also includes fairgrounds, Vizcaino Park, well, etc. 
Fuel: gas and diesel for mowers and tractors for parks and golf course. Golf Course mows all year round, parks mostly only during summer. Cobos says he has already cut more than 10% off budget in the last 2 weeks. Judge asks about utility bill numbers.
Carlos Nieto says White has a point; this is not as important as life saving functions. The County only shouldered the golf course because the city could not longer afford to shoulder it. We're all shouldering it. Do you have to shoulder it? Can't you find someone to lease it? Wasn't there someone who was going to take it over? Judge says Larry Lunsford has not come back; she heard he may have had a heart attack. Nieto says the sooner you get out of this business the better off you're going to be. White says the City of Presidio might be interested in taking it over. Nieto says maybe if the County trades it for taking over our EMS (laughter). Nieto says this is too much for the taxpayers to take on and that it is not something that we, in South County, should have to participate in since we hardly ever use it. It's not of extreme necessity. County ought to be leasing it and have someone run it effectively. Cobos says that sometimes people rent it; Ernest (golf course manager) wanted to remind County that every time the County waives a fee for using the golf course it's $1500 out of the County's collections. Judge says we are waiting on board for fee consultation regarding lease fees, etc.
Cobos says that if fees can generate $50,000 then county can only be out about $110,000. In line with South Parks expenses and South Parks do not take in monies. Cobos says both these budgets are bare-bones and if they cut it any more he sees himself coming back later to get money to pay bills from Commissioners.

White asks Katie about overall numbers. Katie says we're still $287,000 under zero on budget overall.

Aranda analyzes the day's work. Judge goes over cuts and adds. Discussion...
SOme confusion, Gary says there is a slight problem with the spreadsheet. Judge says that with the $200,000 from the jail the deficit is $83,000. Small cuts, possibly making it $82,000 deficit after this day.
Hernandez wants to know what we have not touched.Judge looks- have not looked at DPS.

DPS pg 29

Office supplies: $750
Communication: $3000
Aranda wants to know if they have spent their money.
Hernandez wants to know about Airport. Judge says cuts already made, helped us get lower.
More on DPS. Cobos thinks there might be an old phone line at old jail. Could be cut off. Frances says we only pay their cell phones. Judge asks if they work/do they use them. Unknown.

Road and Bridge: We cut close to $17,000 already says Aranda

Judge says no cut from Sheriff's Office. They did not submit their 3% cut. Could cut based on actuals.
Aranda and Hernandez talking about them hiring some part-timers for Presidio; Stonegarden.
Judge brings up that they only have 2 deputies in Presidio. Discussing more money for Sheriff to help them hire. Hernandez wants to know how to word money only for overtime, get reimbursements from Stonegarden. Hernandez wants to just budget for overtime only as reserves. Judge asks him if he wants to pay a reserve a salary, have him work only when needed, but can eventually collect on Stonegarden once Stonegarden is reactivated. Lots of questions. Hernandez talking about $10,000 each times three officers as County employees so that later they can start overtime and get Stonegarden funds.
Katie says that it might be possible to not pay some guys who want to keep their certifications. White says he's not against this but there are 4 deputies in Marfa, plus Sheriff. 2 deputies in Presidio. Why does the dept head send a deputy to Presidio with 5 total here and two down there. We have no money and there are 5 here, would like to find a different way to approach this other than adding more expenses. Hernandez wants to figure out how to word these part time employees so they can get Stonegarden eventually. Katie asks for clarification. Back and forth. Hernandez wants to figure out how to do this legally.
Katie says Stonegarden probably won't kick in for at least 6 months. Hernandez wants part timers as a break for all the 2 deputies' comp time relief, etc.
Judge says she knows they need help.
Katie wants to know if there are any other budgets to do. She recommends doing this one last once we know where we sit overall at the end. OK, says Hernandez. More discussion. Aranda asks about overall deficit being $82,000. What about taking some more money from reserves? From the jail for deputies?
Vasquez says that would be good and at the same time Sheriff should send a deputy from here. Aranda says Joel Nunez wants assistance. We don't know how else to do it? Judge wants to know if when Stonegarden kicks in to work as reserves at zero salary and get Stonegarden reimbursements. White and Katie confirm that overtime means they have to work 40 hours first. Katie says there is a special thing called enhanced patrol that could work, but it's very specialized. White wants confirmation that there are 4 deputies plus Sheriff in Marfa. Yes. Hernandez wants to know about the 2 deputies paid by the City of Marfa and if we can use them.
Beebe says the City of Marfa funds 2 deputies but only one has been hired; Sheriff has not hired a 2nd. City of Marfa has clarified that despite what Joel Nunez has said about deputies not being allowed to cover outside City limits while on duty under City hours, that is not the case. There is no restriction for on deputies responding to calls in N County while covering the City of Marfa. City of Marfa is interested in 24 hour coverage for the city, can be one officer in the City also responding to emergency calls near city. City has no objection. Keep in mind that the Presidio PD is on duty as well, Presidio is not necessarily short on officers as far as 24 hour coverage is concerned. The Sheriff is probably going to lose the Constable in North County once Courthouse security goes through, and it's the Sheriff's prerogative where to station his replacement in Marfa or Presidio and who to hire for the job in the first place. But to make it right the County needs to just outright fund one more deputy for Presidio if you can during this budget cycle.
Hernandez says that yes, but it's more expensive to hire one full time deputy than to get some part time help. Beebe agrees. Hernandez wants clarification regarding whether Marfa has one or two deputies. Beebe says two are funded but Sheriff had only hired one for this year. More talk about deputy allocation. Still means that Presidio is short a deputy compared to Marfa.
Judge says that she heard city funding was going to be reduced to one deputy from two for city and County would only receive money for one. (I asked Councilman Baeza about this later and received confirmation that City budget allows for two for 2016).
Beebe says that  city has always been happy with Sheriff Dept job. Judge asks if commissioners want to come back to this budget last. Hernandez says he still wants extra money for part timers. Aranda says yes as well. Augustin Ramirez has a question about overtime. Does each new employee need to put in 40 hours to get the Stonegarden? Conversations about straight time vs overtime, PISD in the past, etc. Katie clarifies that the overtime has to be overtime.
Hernandez wants confirmation about working 40 hours to get Stonegarden, still wants to hire help for straight time, no overtime. Aranda wants more info on how to get Stonegarden legally.White advocates for transferring one deputy to Presidio. Would help the problem immensely. Hernandez wants to know how many officers are with the Presidio PD. 4 officers not including Marco Baeza. Officers for city are sent home when they get close to getting comp time; that's how they avois the comp time problem the County S.O. has.
Commissioners allocate $20,000 for part time help for S.O. in Presidio for reserves.

Hernandez makes motion to adjourn.
Judge wants to see total; spreadsheet not working right.
Adjourned at 5:00 PM

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