County approves budget with raises; salary grievance denied
By Becky Brewster
Culberson County Commissioners met in regular session last Monday. A $5.7 million budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year was approved.
The amount to the General Fund is $4,933,610 while $768,098 is slated for the Road & Bridge Maintenance Fund. Commissioners approved a rate of $0.173329 per $100 of property valuation.
The total expenditure budget for FY 19/20 is $5,701,708.00 compared to the expenditure budget of $4,243,689.54 from the FY 18/19 year. The budget includes a 5% increase for most elected offices. This brings the annual salary for Commissioners to $29,272.95.
The Court considered the recommendation of the Salary Grievance Committee which recommended by a vote of 7-2 to grant an additional in the amount of $2000 increase for County/District Clerk Linda McDonald above the 5% raise granted to other elected officials. McDonald had previously had a salary increase granted for the 2018-2019 budget year through the grievance process. When the budget process started for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Judge Urias initially recommended a 7% increase for all elected officials but only a 5% for McDonald, noting that she is earning more than all elected officials except the County Judge. Urias noted that “it’s my idea, and I’ll stick with it,” recommending that the grievance be denied. McDonald noted that she had been with the County for 35 years, and indicated that the changes in the requirements of the office of grown exponentially in the last several years, especially in the realm of elections. She asked the Court to respect the decision of the Salary Grievance Committee to grant the increase which would only amount to about $2000/year. The Commissioners voted 3-1 to deny the grievance.
The Court also addressed confusion over the need for part-time help for the JP#3 office. Judge Davis had requested part-time help since June but the request was deferred for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Davis then requested part-time help for the year in his budget proposal to the Court. Somehow the issue of maternity leave came in to the equation and the Court agreed to budget for three months of part-time help to cover the projected absence of the existing employee. Davis noted that this did not address the need for continued additional personnel that his office needs due to the increased volume of tickets from the northern part of the County. A heated debate followed resulting in the commissioners finally agreeing to increase the budget for part-time help for 12 months as initially requested.
The Commissioners then adopted the County budget for FY 2019-2020 with the changes to the JP#3 budget, and set the tax rate at $.173329/ $100 valuation. The County will offer discounts for early payment of taxes at a rate of 3% for October, 2% for November, and 1% for December.
The Court then held a short executive session to discuss Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 suspension and county benefits. The JP 4 office is currently held by Betty Velez. No action was taken.
In other County business, the Court also:
Approved Mental Health Services Proposal for the Sheriff’s Office.
Acknowledged that a planning meeting will be held on September 19 for the TXCDBG planning grant.
Approved renewal of BC-BS Medical Insurance at the same rates, noting the County has a $250 deductible.
Changed the dental and vision insurance plans to Met-Life.
Noted the reappointment of the County Auditor.
Approved a court-ordered tax refund to CDM Resources in the amount of $35,366.68.
Moved the time for the regular monthly meetings to 5:00 p.m.
Heard reports on various County Projects.
Approved monthly expense and payroll.