County OKs raises for full-time officials

The new Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) at Culberson County Airport. The AWOS is a fully configurable airport weather system that provides continuous, real time information and reports on airport weather conditions. This will assist pilots during takeoff and landing as well as allow the airport to better communicate with aircraft in transit. (VHA-Photo/DB)
The new Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) at Culberson County Airport. The AWOS is a fully configurable airport weather system that provides continuous, real time information and reports on airport weather conditions. This will assist pilots during takeoff and landing as well as allow the airport to better communicate with aircraft in transit. (VHA-Photo/DB)

Commissioners forgo pay raise

By Becky Brewster

Culberson County Commissioners met in special session on August 3, 2020, for the second budget workshop for the FY 2020-2021 budget cycle. The Court began the discussion of possible salary increases for elected officials to meet the looming public notification deadlines. They reviewed budgetary impacts on granting 3% and 5% salary increases for both elected officials and employees.

Commissioner Gilda Morales recommended that no raises be given to Commissioners Court, but recommended a 5% increase to other elected officials. This resulted in a debate among the Court concerning COVID-19 exposure possibilities in various positions, full-time elected officials vs part-time elected officials, treatment of elected officials vs employees and the uncertainty of future taxable values. Ultimately, the Court decided to proceed with a 5% increase for elected officials excluding the four Commissioners who said they wanted to use the money toward raises for full and part-time employees. They then directed that a 5% increase for full-time employees and $.50/hour for part-time employees be used to develop the draft budget. Final decisions on the raises for employees will be determined later in the budget process.

County Auditor Mark Cabezuela reported that the effective tax rate (ETR) should be available by the regular meeting scheduled for next Monday, August 10, which will provide a more accurate picture for the fiscal year. Judge Carlos Urias noted that the ETR will be less for 2020 due to increased mineral valuations from January 2020, and recommended that the Court consider a tax increase to the rollback rate. This increase will most likely result in a tax rate that is less than the 2019 rate. Urias also commended the Court for their teamwork over the last several years, noting that the Court works well together for the benefit of the County.

In other County business, the Court also:

Tabled the proposal for JP#1 Improvements pending further clarification on scope of work and references.

Discussed appointment of Local Health Authority for Culberson County due to the retirement of Dr. Garner.

Approved engagement of Knapp and Co. for the FY 2019-2020 audit, noting that most of the field work will be done remotely.

Heard reports on various County Projects.

Acknowledged that the AWOS has been installed and is awaiting FAA certification.

Discussed speed bumps at the cemetery entrance and streets around the school.

Discussed purchasing a disinfection system for the County for use at all County locations.

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