Last week I presented a summary of our 2012 financial performance on the General Fund, relating we had ended the year under the $10.3 million budget by 5.4% and under collections vs. expenditures by $160,000 which al lowed us to grow our General Fund reserves from $400,000 to some $560,000.
Since that time we’ve been col lect ing addit ional delinquent taxes which we anticipate increasing our reserves to about $600,000.
The other major part of our county budget is our four commissioner’s Road and Bridge or Precinct accounts.
In 2012 our commissioners had a total budget of $6,345,000 including $1,850,000 in built in reserves, so we anticipated bringing in $4,995,000 in new revenue.
About $700,000 of this comes from automobile license fees and most of the rest from their cut of the ad valorem taxes. Actual collections in 2012 totaled $4,379,000, some $616,000 less than budgeted (primarily due to the Luminant settlement).
Total expenditures for the year for the four precincts totaled $4,734,000 which was 5% under budget (without reserves included); however, this was $355,000 more than the revenue that we collected from ad valorem taxes and auto license fees.
So the net result was that this drew down our total Road and Bridge Reserve Accounts somewhat from $4.376 million which is where they were to begin 2012 to $2.021 million to begin 2013.
This is still a healthy amount of reserves overall, but as I said in my “State of the County” Report, we cannot continue to do this in future years because we must maintain a healthy level of reserves in our precinct accounts.
In fact, we’ve got to build up Precinct 3’s reserves which are too low right now at just over $100,000. Precinct 1 is at just over a million, Precinct 2 is at $400,000, and Precinct 4 is at $472,000.
During 2012 the commissioners took a very aggressive approach to making permanent improvements to county roads and as a result were able to permanently surface some 12 miles of county roads last year.
We’re very proud of this progress that’s been made but as you can see from the budget results last year, we can’t sustain this long, much less speed it up without more money being available in the budget.
Therefore, we’re going to be developing the proposal that I introduced to you in the “State of the County” Report, and that is to float $5 million in bonds over the next 5 years to enable us to permanently surface an additional 100 miles of key county roads during this 5 year time frame.
As I stated this must be done without an increase in our 60 cent tax rate. The commissioners will be putting a specific proposal together for your consideration. We won’t attempt anything like this without public approval in a special bond election.
This proposal will make more money available in the next few years that we can pay back over a long period of time; with interest rates at such a low level.
I am of the opinion that this approach is a reasonable way for us to speed up the process of improving our Milam County roads. If you haven’t already done so, please take time to view my report on www.milamcounty.net.