Commissioners review new fiscal year budgetdfwnewsa | September 11, 2022 | 0 | Midlothian , Waxahachie News
With a Sept. 30 deadline looming, the Ellis County Commissioners’ Court went over the county’s fiscal year 2022-2023 proposed budget in detail during a public hearing at Tuesday’s regular bi-weekly meeting.
The county previously proposed 29.5867 cents per $100 taxable valuation of property as the tax rate for maintenance and operations. The “no-new-revenue” rate is 28.2 cents, which County Judge Todd Little said the county intends to adopt.
Little said the difference between the two figures is in the interest and sinking rate, which is earmarked for retiring debt. Little said the debt rate would retire more than $3 million in principal and interest on existing bonds.
County Auditor Janet Martin later clarified that the no-new-revenue M&O rate is 25.98 cents. The proposed I&S rate is 0.13201 cents and the Farmto- Market Road rate is 0.22866 cents, for a sum of 29.5867 cents.
Little went on to say that a homesteaded house in Ellis County appraised at $300,000 that had a tax bill of $1,118 this past year would be charged $977, even with a maximum 10-percent capped annual increase factored in.
Features of the county’s budget include a 6-percent cost of living adjustment for all employees based on inflation, but some commissioners expressed interest at a larger COLA of 8 percent.
All department heads will also be eligible for merit pay raises of up to 3 percent based on scoring. Little said the county added 31 new positions last year and will be adding more positions as the population grows.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Lane Grayson said the new budget also provides a huge increase in health insurance to include spouses and children of county employees, and step pay for Sheriff’s Department employees.
The new budget allows for the hiring of a county attorney separate from the Ellis County District Attorney’s Office at a cost of $126,000. Grayson questioned the expense, but Precinct 3 Commissioner Paul Perry agreed with Little in that the county needs to separate that duty from the DA’s office. Perry did say the county could put outside counsel on retainer at a reduced cost.
County and District Attorney Ann Montgomery advocated that her office is capable of continuing to handle civil matters for the court.
Perry later pointed out a clerical issue in the budget in which the Justice of the Peace’s chief clerks’ pay does not match the survey of five similar counties. Little said that would be addressed in the final approval of the budget and tax rates during the court’s Sept. 20 regular meeting, All members of the court were present.
• The approved consent agenda consisted of previous meeting minutes; acceptance of various reports; acceptance of continuing education for the Purchasing Office; the fiscal year 2022-2023 county holiday and payroll schedule; tax refunds in the amount of $3,314; and numerous budgetary lineitem transfers.
• Pulled from the consent agenda and approved separately were an extension of 30 days for Emergency Services District No. 4 (Red Oak) to complete its 2022 audit report and the reappointment of president Robert McMillan and treasurer Brian Henson to the ESD board. Also approved separately were the acceptance of audit reports from ESD No. 2 (Midlothian), ESD No. 3 (Italy) and ESD No. 9 (Palmer).
• A one-time variance for a 14.908-acre property at 1337 Moseley Road in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Ennis for not meeting the minimum road frontage requirement was approved. A similar one-time variance for an 8.30-acre property at 222 Southwinds Road near Italy to allow one lot to not meet minimum frontage requirements was also agreed to.
• A plat of a 5.897-acre property on the northwest corner of Chisholm Trail and East Haven Road in the ETJ of Waxahachie was approved.
• Commissioners OK’d the purchase of audiovisual equipment and related items for the Ellis County Central Building project in the amount of $14,250.
• A task order with HOK Architects for a master plan for the County Farm site was approved in the amount of $99,772. The site will host a wide range of county facilities, including the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program.
• The court approved the purchase of a 2022 Vantage end dump for Road and Bridge Precinct 3 in the amount of $68,881.
• The purchase of proprietary hardware and software in an initial amount of $48,180 from NEMO-Q for the county Tax Offices was tabled after a legal question was raised about the sole-source status of the vendor, which would exempt the county from bidding requirements for the purchase.
• The court approved a schedule of salaries for elected officials for the new fiscal year. All will receive an increase of at least 6 percent with a few others receiving a little more, Little said.
• Commissioners authorized Sheriff Brad Norman to apply for the Bullet-Resistant Shield Grant program for fiscal year 2022-2023. The grant is for 48 hand-held shields for the ECSO, Norman told the court.
• The court renewed the current Silver Retiree Health Insurance coverage and premiums for the 2023 calendar year.
• Fire Marshal Tim Birdwell reported that recent additional rainfall in Ellis County has reduced fire danger further since the court voted Aug. 31 to lift a burn ban.
• Following an executive session, no public action was taken.