Updated 9:36 a.m. CST Aug. 13, 2014
Commissioners approved a preliminary proposed 201415 budget Aug. 5 that is larger than the 201314 budget and includes significant cost increases to hire additional personnel.
At the regularly scheduled court session, commissioners approved proposed budget amounts of about $146.1 million for the general fund, $22.1 million for the road and bridge fund, and $74.6 million for the debt service fund.
Each of these funds covers different areas. The general fund includes most of the county's office, which includes elected and appointed officials and department heads. The road and bridge fund pays the county's unified road system, including the maintenance and construction of county roads and bridges. The debt service fund is reserved for making payments on the county's existing debt.
Budget Officer Ashley Koenig said her department received requests for 139 positions for the 201415 fiscal year, compared with 80 positions requested in 201314.
Thats probably the biggest task with respect to the budget, she said. We look at the job description, the salary requested and what the benefit is to the county as far as recommending that position.
In the proposed general fund, various county departments requested filling 123 full-time-equivalent positions totaling $7.06 million. Of those, the budget office recommended funding 25, or about 20 percent of the requests, which totals $1.5 million for the fiscal year.
Staff requested that eight full-time-equivalent positions totaling $386,000 be funded through the road and bridge portion of the county budget. However, money for only one of those jobs totaling $79,000 annually was recommended by the budget office.
Senate Bill 1611, or the Michael Morton Act led to four additional personnel requests.
The Michael Morton Act was effective Jan. 1, and basically prosecutors and law enforcement agencies are required to turn over all evidence on defendants accused of crime, Koenig said. In addition to turning that over, all of the evidence must be documented.
In order to comply with this, the requested positions include a digital evidence technician in the county attorneys office, a discovery clerk in the district attorneys office, an evidence technician in the sheriffs office and an assistant warehouse coordinator in records management and preservation.
Koenig said the county currently funds the positions as part-time roles, but she recommends transitioning them into full-time positions.
The county also saw a boost in mental health personnel requests, some of which can be attributed to the opening of theGeorgetown Behavioral Health Institute Aug. 7.
We have two new mental health hospitals, she said. With that, we have had a 244 percent increase in mental health cases.
Requested positions include a mental health clerk in the county clerks office, a civil legal assistant and a civil attorney in the county attorneys office and a crisis intervention team deputy in the sheriffs office.
Commissioners will adopt the 201415 budget Aug. 26.