Commentary

JUDGE’S COMMENTS

Final county budget proposed
David Barkemeyer
Milam County Judge

Commissioners Court has met several times to make the necessary decisions to get the 2012 budget in balance and to discuss and communicate decisions to all the department heads and elected officials.

All these sessions were held in open meeting settings. The proposed final budget is on display at the County Clerk’s office, and is posted on the website at www.milamcounty.net.

Three public hear ings are scheduled in the county courtroom at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Aug. 22 and at 6 p.m. on Sept. 7.

As we have stated, we were committed to maintaining the Milam County tax rate at 60 cents per $100 valuation for the coming year.

We planned next year’s budget with that goal in mind. The 2011 Property Tax Rate calculations have been published by the Milam County Tax Assessor Kolette Morgan based on the Appraisal Review Board’s approved certified tax base totals which were somewhat higher than in 2010, with some properties still under protest.

The other confusing factor is that the taxes of those citizens over age 65 and of those that are disabled are frozen regardless of any increase in valuation.

So, to actually predict the amount of ad valorem tax revenue that will be available next year is not an exact science.

I planned in a full $11,376,000 in anticipated ad valorem tax revenue for 2012 which is extremely aggressive. That assumes that every penny is collected.

Furthermore, our county revenue is comprised of some one million in sales tax, about 3 million in fines and fees, a half million in auto license fees, and so on in addition to ad valorem taxes.

On the expense side we have the potential costs of a capital murder trial, the challenge of trying to get a capital road improvement program underway, over 50 percent of our budget going to personnel costs with health care and other areas skyrocketing.

Nevertheless, we closed the million dollar gap that I told you about in the previous article that we faced after the first round of budget planning that we conducted last month.

We did this by reducing the amount of planned pay increases by approximately one half to a necessary few.

We also included only $100,000 in additional court costs relative to the capital murder trial.

We will plan to borrow whatever additional funds are necessary and pay this back over a several year period to cover this situation. In addition, Milam County for the first time has the opportunity to join a coalition of counties that has formed a ”regional public defender for capital cases” which will in the future offer protection against such unforeseen expenses.

We’ve also postponed the renovations in the county clerk area hoping to find some other means to accomplish this work, and cut in several other areas.

We anticipate no reserve buildup and will redouble our efforts to increase fine and fee revenue by at least $200,000 over current year levels.

So to say to you that we will achieve our budget for 2012 is going to be quite a challenge Our commitment to you is to continue to do a responsible job of operating your county government.


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2011-08-18 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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