Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Notes from Presidio County Commissioners Court Budget Workshop, August 23rd, 2016, 1:30 PM, Presidio

Here are my notes from this meeting. The air conditioning is out at the County Annex, and the school graciously donated their conference room for this meeting. Many county employees and elected officials were present, as were officials from other agencies.
My analysis is that the commissioners are making progress towards a painful, but realistic budget. County Auditor Patty Roach has been the star here. She is well-prepared and understands the issues and the numbers.

Presidio County Commissioners Court Budget Workshop Meeting 1:30 PM, Presidio I.S.D. Conference Room, Tuesday 8/23/2016

Patty puts up a slide on the wall demonstrating our position.

M&O Revenues as of 8/23/16 $3,779.369
M&O Expenditures: (4,257,348)
Transfers to cover shortfalls in other funds: (114,505)

These are totals after rolling back dept funds to last year's levels. 

Sheriff has a public comment: he wants to know if the jail renovation needs an actual architect. He would rather only hire an engineer. Judge thanks him for his input. Katie says that statute reads for design/build that there needs to be an architect. 
Just a suggestion, Sheriff says. 

Announcements: no announcements

Item 6- discussion only budget workshop. Patty says there was an error in estimated revenue on the part of the tax assessor, has been corrected. Reflects an increase of about $225,000. 
Most depts have submitted reworked budgets to go back to 2016 levels. 
Total shortfall is now $592,484.00

Increased revenue by $225,240
Decreased expenditures $374,351

Constable pct 2 will be added to insurance policy for health, previously not covered. 
Reduction in shortfall from last meeting: $643,000

Raise M&O tax by three cents.
Offset from I&S tax rate and move to M&O. We have a small surplus in I&S rate, can move to M&O without triggering rollback. 
Current tax rate: .05458. If we reduce to .34 or .44 and move to M&O . One penny off I&S nets $38,640. Could go up to 2 cents (77,280 to M&O)

Two cents still leaves us with a surplus in hand in I&S of $136,314

Six cents still available in tax rate before rollback. Worth about $225,000

Jail reserve fund balance: Hernandez wants to know. Patty says projected is 1.9 million without any transfers or HVAC redo.
Hernandez wants to know what the difference is between taking jail reserves and using I&S funds. Patty says not too much difference but you do not want to deplete your reserves. Says that HVAC replacement at jail is at least a three hundred thousand dollar difference. She does not want to use jail fund to bail out our operating supplies. 
She says pipeline revenue at best will not come in until 2019 budget. 
Next year we will likely have significant revenue deficit.
Aranda is very concerned that the pipeline revenue will not come in earlier. Says we are counting on money for 2018 budget. He spoke to some folks who are experts in appraisal . Says that pipeline will be appraised in Jan 2017 and anything I the ground or on the ground will be assessed. 
By the time it all gets to Norma Arroyo is should be Sept Or Oct 2017. Patty says that she has seen the tax calculation form and New improvements have to be backed out. Norma agrees. New improvements have to be taken out and are not on until the next year. This year was $12,000,000.00 in new improvements. There is a lag. 
Aranda provides a paper for Patty to review. Hernandez asks about the chili plant. Says it supposed to be up and running by July of this next year. Norma says there is a lag, same applies. Money from 2017 is collected in 2018.
White says that we can tweak. Go up a bit on tax rate, take some out of reserves, possibly sell some assets, including some land next to the golf course, get it back on the tax rolls, explore selling some other county assets.
Patty says she supposes it could be viable. Timeline may be tricky, plus statutory requirements may need to be met.
Hernandez says that possibly selling some of the land near the golf course could help us pay our bills. Sell land at a good market value. 
Vasquez says he would be opposed to selling that land. White says that there are fewer choices when you are broke. 
Hernandez clarifies that it would not be the golf course, it is other land nearby the County owns. Vasquez repeats that he is opposed to selling any land. 
Hernandez says that selling is better than leasing for $1 for 100 years. What kind of return do we get either side. 
Aranda says there is an advantage to putting the land back on the tax rolls. 
White says a 100 year lease is essentially a sale. Aranda says he understands but leasing the property still allows the County to tax all the improvements.
Hernandez is advocating selling the land. Says that by leasing it we are essentially giving it away. Sell it we get some cash and additional tax revenue unless the purchaser gets some fancy tax abatements.
Aranda says that if we try to sell the land near the golf course at a high price we risk losing the whole development.
White says the minute we award a lease, these guys can take it to the bank, get a loan on it and and be gone or do nothing.
Hernandez reiterates his question about spending reserves versus spending the surplus in I&S. Patty says that with the I&S you are taking money you are collecting and transferring it to M&O versus taking money out of a sort of savings account from money you earn when coming from reserves. 
Patty says that last year transferred about $300,000 from jail fund for FY 2016 and about $100,000 from M&O surplus/reserves.
White says we have six cents we can go up on the tax rate. Each penny on a $100,000 home is ten dollars.
Vasquez asks about jail fund, how much can we take? Roof needs repairs, plus HVAC replacement. Patty says we really need to develop a policy to replace infrastructure every five years, schedule it and have a system so that we can easily predict expenses. 
Hernandez is concerned about going up on the taxes too much with jail fund reserves being nearly $2 million. Patty says that is why the five year plan for infrastructure replace/repair is so important. With one we could provide the public with info about future expenses. 
Four months of operating expenses is $1.5 million. Need to have that cushion.
Patty further advocates for five year plan. This year so far everyone has rolled back their budgets, cooperating, but still we have a large deficit.
Aranda wants to know more about the tax rate. 
Aranda says that every year the tax rate has either stayed the same or np even slightly lowered. That has been his goal. This year is different, we will have to raise, and he is ok with that. But he wants a recommendation from Patty about tax rate.
Patty laughs, says that jail reserves can be tapped this year. Cuts to budget can be made probably about $100,000. Tax rate can go up, adjust the I&S / M&O rates up two cents. Jail reserves are probably the best main short term solution, but not a good long term solution. Can probably handle it this year. 
Hernandez is looking at Patty's suggested cuts. He does not necessarily agree. 
Reduction of ten percent for outside agencies. Other cuts. She has firm numbers for health insurance discount we earned. 
Among other things, cut Sheriff's office reserves, cut temporary labor, cut out PIPA contribution, Presidio Food Pantry cont since does not exist.
Aranda says he would like to go down this list one by one.
White says that PIPA is going to have to be funded some with some seed money. Just getting started. Most important priority in his opinion. City and PMDD are contributing about $16,000. 
White very much wants the $12,500 back into PIPA. 
Hernandez wants to bring it back up to $16,500, as per last year. 
Aranda agrees. Should keep it if we need it. Hernandez pushes for the $16,500 budgets last year. White says that is we have to find it in reserves, we should do it. It is going to return tenfold. 
Judge says that CBI funding should cover all this. White says, yes, but we do not have it yet.
Tentative agreement to put $14,850.00 in (10%cut from last year)
Water district: last year $20,000, this year $18,000.00. White asks if we get an accounting on that. Judge says we can get one but we have not gotten anything. White says we must get a report. Some confusion as to whether a report has actually been received. Discussion about what the threshold should be for quarterly or yearly reports. 
Presidio EMS: Judge mentions that Mayor of Presidio says that he thinks the city will agree to bill per mile at $22.50. Aranda thinks it will be more expensive doing it that way. Marco Baeza says they would gladly accept that money per mile, it will result in more than $100,000 per year. Judge asks city admin if he is willing to work with her to get better reporting to gather detailed information on ambulance runs. 
He says yes, but last month alone county would have had to pay nearly $60,000 to city. Virgie ask about how the City of Presidio is billing their customers. Marco says that in all his years of collecting, you will not get a better collection rate of 35%. Insurance and Medicare pay about $400 for a run that would cost the county $2000. 
City admin promises more and better information. 
Marco says that is they do not get the grant from the hospital district city may be looking at another $300,000 to budget for EMS since they need a new ambulance. Aranda brings up giving Presidio money from the pipeline when it comes in. Thinks it is a good idea to give them a percentage.
Baeza says that there is no need to duplicate service as far as more ambulance services. He just got word that under new rules his EMT's will fall under the forty hour workweek. Says that he does not believe the City of Marfa may not be following labor law requirements. Judge brings up the $131,000 owed to the County for tax collection owed. Baeza says that this is something we can work on, just an oversight. He says it has never been before the City Council from 2010 onwards and the County has not been able to provide a signed contract. He is not pointing fingers but no need for theses accusations. Judge asks if we are going to meet at 4:00 to discuss this. Beast a says, "I don't think so, Judge."
Discussion regarding leaving Presidio EMS at $100,000. Aranda wants to leave it at that. Same about Marfa EMS. Leave it at $36,000 unless Marfa opts to Bill per mile. Judge suggests this but asks if commissioners want to do this. Hernandez would rather keep the $36,000 and forget the $22.50/mile. Katie mentions that we may not have a choice; it is up to the city to decide.
White wants to leave it the way it is for now and then make a decision later based on what we have. Wants to decide how much we are willing to raise the tax, other monies and then go from there. Jeff Davis County has not even been added in to this budget. 
More discussion about Jeff Davis County backing the County up. 
Judge suggest budgeting $10,000 for four runs for the year. 
If they go over, Sheriff says the jail can cover it.x
White says we can combine the JP offices and cut out JP #1. 
Presidio Fire Dept Chief Muniz wants to know why budgets are being cut in the first place. Judge explains deficit. $2,250.00 being proposed to be cut from Fire Dept. Muniz complains that he has not received payment for last quarter. Judge says she hopes to meet with the city of Presidio regarding holding payments since the City owes the County collections monies. Judge agrees, through no fault of his, the county is withholding payments from Presidio based on not receiving a simple or single response from the City of Presidio regarding the money owed to the County. 
Aranda clarifies to the Judge that the fire dept has been filing their reports and have not yet received third quarter monies although Marfa Fire dept has. Judge says that until we decide how to deal with City owed monies, we are not making payments. Clarification on debts, it is pointed out to Judge that fire dept is not really part of City of Presidio, they have complied with requirements. Muniz mentions that payments seem to come at different times. Judge is unsure of why things are not standardize, says she needs to get this system more standardized and need a more tight policy with regard to which payments are going out and when.
White says that they are not trying to withhold payment. Judge apologizes. Chief says he is just trying to figure this out. Judge says she will consult with Treasurer. Aranda says that we have budgeted all this money for non-departmental, we should be paying the money when it is expected. Aranda says we need to work out getting paid for the owed monies, but we should not be holding money just because of this other issue. Aranda says we need to work on theses issues and get them sorted out. 
Patty says that the city of Presidio has not paid their dispatch contract. There is a signed contract. Also, the City of Presidio has received services from the county and it is no secret. Baeza says that this is an issue of the County not informing the city of any of this. Not even a courtesy letter. White asks if the city would prefer for the County to stop collecting their taxes? Sheriff says that no matter what he will not stop dispatch services regardless of whether or not County is paid for it. It does not matter to him; these are emergency services. This is something we have to have. Judge says she took the initiative yesterday to try to set up a meeting, which is now off at the last minute. 
Baeza says that's because nobody knew, not even you, Judge. Judge says that we are finding many more things since our financial team is getting things in order. Officials have been meeting regarding that there has traditionally been no follow up on commissioners court actions. This is changing. 
Baeza says he understands, but all of a sudden Presidio is being held to the fire on these issues. Please do not punish the City of Presidio. 
Sheriff says that since we reopened the jail, the county has taken about six million dollars for operations. Just to put a value on that service at this point...
White says we don't currently have a budget for the golf course. Patty says, n, that has been added at last year's budget levels. 
Hernandez wants to return to the project at hand; going down the lines of non-departmental. 
Food Pantries: none for Presidio since their food pantry is not active. Ten percent decrease for Marfa food pantry.
Patty wants to know if commissioners are doing the cut for the two Fire Depts. Commissioners agree not to cut these depts.
No cuts for Libraries at the behest of Jim White. Agreed. 
Historical Commission. Cut out entirely.
Child Welfare Board: no cuts for little kids. Commissioners agree.
Child Advocacy Contribution: no cuts.
Health Ins/Retirement: no cuts. Firm number per Auditor
CIP contribution for airports: Chase says there is no CIP project on the books to be funded. Five and ten year plan would be best to put some of that away for the future. Runway improvements will cost about a million over this time. Would like to see county put a few bucks away. Proposed cut of $84,000. Last year budget $109,000, proposed $25,000. 
Judge proposes to get leases straightened out, try to get a contribution from the City, possible bond issue later if money is not set aside. Patty says that a bond election could be possible. Debt we have currently is from when jail was built. 
Two more years on jail until bond retired, possible to maybe do a bond issuance at that point to keep tax rate I&S in line. White says we still have not decided how much we're really gonna raise through the methods we have. 
Patty says the combination of methods we have can make this work. Painful but possible. 
Proposed of $25,000 towards airport CIP agreed upon. 
Insurance claim repairs: past issue, mostly resolved. Sam Cobos says that approx $2,000 has not been spent. Would like to keep it in the budget.
1,450 M&O portion added back in.
JP Presidio temp labor: proposed cut of $6500 to cut part time labor. Patty says right now nobody is employed in this position. She has two part time, this is merely temporary. Cut.
Parks South: cut temp labor from $9,000 to zero. 

Sheriff's Reserves: Sheriff would prefer full-time deputy in South County. Aranda says that they would prefer a full time, it would cut down on the problems with reserves, etc. Sheriff agrees. Says he would like both reserves and a full timer. 
White asks Sheriff if an extra deputy would assist in comp time issues, make the dept more flexible. Sheriff says definitely. Hernandez mentions that the pipeline project may impact law enforcement duties. More people from out of town. 
Stonegarden would help a lot. Sheriff agrees. White wants to plug in a new deputy. Beebe advocates for using jail emerge funds to help fund this position. Says it makes more sense than any other use, though it may be surprising to hear that from him it is what he thinks. 
Judge says that City of Marfa is funding three deputies for Marfa area, County can expect $180,000 payment from the City of Marfa for law enforcement contract. 
White says the additional deputy is self serving for the JP. Beebe says South County would be for JP 2. Agreed to put that in for now and see how it goes. 
Talk about extra help in financial offices, example being OMB part timer to help with bank statements. Commissioners want to add a category where if any of the financial offices need temp help there will be a line for that. Agreed. 
Back to South Parks Labor: $9,000 for last year, this year none budgeted. Hernandez says to cut. Agreed.

After all cuts today from non-dept cuts total $98,965.00

Patty says Virgie has cut an additional $6300 from last year's budget.
OMB cut theirs, Auditor cut hers. County Agent cut by about half since she is leaving. 
County Agent savings about $12,000. 

Judge announces to commissioners that Patty has requested to move into County Agent's office. On next agenda. Patty says that computer setup could be costly, other than that, not much expense. 
Talk about moving offices around, becoming more efficient.

Discussion on tax rate, I&S transfer by two cents to M&O.
Proposed to allow Sheriff to hire two deputies, one for Presidio, one for Marfa (Paid by Marfa). 

Patty talks about comp time audit; cooks need to be cut down to forty hours a week to avoid comp time or overtime. Dispatch as well, but it is a bit different. 
Bringing these folks down to forty hours will cut their pay by four hours per pay period. Recommends a small raise. 
Cooks may have to go home for a bit. Total of three employees. Would require a small raise.
White wants to give a small raise, Aranda agrees. 
Dispatch issue: used to work 84 hours per two week pay period. Do not qualify as law enforcement.
Sheriff says that if jail standards walks in they do not qualify as jailers, but have to be certified as jailers. Patty wants to know if the dispatch workers can have their hours rearranged to work a bit fewer hours. Budgeted for five, going to need six to make this work. Double issue, add a jailer, each jailer makes less, need to slightly raise pay.
TAC said that dispatchers are not in the same classification as law enforcement unless they are working as jailers. Not when they are working as dispatch. 
Sheriff argues that his dispatchers are actually working jail jobs. Majority of the work is monitoring the jail, phone calls for the jail, monitoring the control panel for the jail. 
Katie believes it may be cheaper to pay overtime with just five. 
Patty says adding complexities to the payroll system has already been a problem. She has problems with the concept of having separate system for different departments. 
Total cost for adding a dispatcher for a year would be about $38,000.
Starting pay is around $13/hr. After time pay rises to $15/hr.
Patty says overtime for a year would cost about $12,000.
Katie says that the dispatch contracts have not been reviewed in years. Dispatch could be raised a bit. Three entities pay: City of Marfa, City of Presidio, Jeff Davis County.m
Hernandez wants to know when dispatch contracts were renegotiated, asks Sheriff.
2009 contracts initiated. Have not been renegotiated. 
Says costs have gone up a bit, but not by too much. White says we need to negotiate those contracts.
Aranda wants to keep five ad give them the overtime. 
Patty gives some options. White says to pay the. The overtime. Hernandez agrees. 
Says also that overtime is based on al hours worked per week, so if one week they work too many, it can cost more. Sheriff agrees, some weeks they work more, other weeks work less. 
She recommends getting real numbers together before we decide. 
White wants another budget session.
 Hernandez agrees. Patty says we can schedule one. Hernandez suggests to have one after the next regular meeting.
Three percent raises thrown out there. Hernandez says let's not talk about that right now. 
Budget workshop scheduling discussed. Adoption of tax rate, public hearing, etc.

Next workshop Tuesday, August 30th in Presidio at PISD at 1:30 PM

Adjourn at 4:34 PM

Marfa EMS contribution

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