Money for volunteer groups left in 2014 budget
David Barkemeyer
Milam County Judge

We’ve made it through another budget planning cycle. The 2014 county budget of $18 million ($15 million without reserves) and a tax rate of 63 cents were approved at the Sept. 9 Commissioner’s Court meeting.

I would like to be able to say that once again I made it through relatively unscathed, but unfortunately I realize that this one produced a good deal of hard feelings, what with several employees scheduled to lose their jobs, elected officials being forced to reduce their departmental workforce, no pay increases for any county employees next year, and a significant tax increase for you taxpayers.

This was a tough one.

I want to publicly thank the commissioners for their support in taking the responsible action necessary to get our county budget balanced for next year.

It wasn’t an easy thing to do. Hopefully the next one will be a more pleasant experience for all of us.

Whenever you go through a difficult situation you sometimes learn to appreciate certain things that maybe have been taken for granted in the past.

In cutting the budget this time, there were some choices that had to be made. One of the areas that could have been reduced or eliminated was the funding for some of the volunteer organizations in the county such as volunteer fire departments ($90,000), senior citizen centers ($52,000), the county museum ($40,000), the county historical association ($5,000), child welfare ($5,000), and the like.

But then you think of the dozens and dozens of people who volunteer their time to keep these organizations going for the benefit of the citizens of the county.

Add to that the thousands and thousands of dollars in donations that keeps these organizations afloat that amounts to many times more than what the county contributes from the general fund.

Finally I woke up and realized just how important these volunteer organizations mean to the success of our communities. Think of what it would cost if we had to totally fund some of these functions with tax dollars!

That’s why I believe my predecessors included some help for these groups in our county budget in the first place, and why I now place high value on these expenditures and kept them in our 2014 budget.

Tough decision, yes, but cutting these things would have affected lives as well.

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2013-09-19 digital edition

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