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Law Enforcement, courts make up bulk of Victoria County budget

By Melissa Crowe
Aug. 14, 2013 at 3:14 a.m.


BUDGET DATES

• Aug. 26 - Discuss rollback and effective tax rates, publish elected officials' salaries

• Sept. 9 - First public hearing, scheduled after the 10 a.m. commissioners court meeting in the county courthouse, 115 N. Bridge St.

• Sept. 12 - Second public hearing, set for 2 p.m. at the county courthouse, 115 N. Bridge St.

• Sept. 16 - Adopt the budget and tax rate

Victoria County Commissioners put the finishing touches on their $36.1 million budget Wednesday.

While the tax rate is proposed to stay the same, revenue will increase by $2 million, County Judge Don Pozzi said.

That increase will fund cost-of-living raises, benefits and 14 new positions.

Of the total budget, more than half is going to law enforcement and courts, Pozzi said. Furthermore, law enforcement will see about a $500,000 increase, which includes half the new hires - four patrol deputies, a lieutenant, a warrant officer and a training clerk.

Pozzi said the percentage of budget going to courts and law enforcement is typical statewide.

"That's the majority of your people, the majority of your expense from an operating standpoint and the vast majority of your services," he said.

The remaining new hires are for a court administrator for the county clerk, a new computer technician in Information Technology, a clerk in Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 office, a juvenile detention courts officer, an investigator with the district attorney and a sanitation inspector in the health department.

Pozzi said this is the first time since 2008 the sheriff's office has received a boost in patrol deputies.

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said he worked around the personnel shortage in the past by consolidating and reorganizing some units.

He said disparity in commander pay is still a critical aspect that needs to be addressed in the future.

"There are two challenges of overseeing and presenting budgets," O'Connor said. "I don't expect the county to operate in the red, and there are other department needs."

County Auditor Judy McAdams said the sheriff's three departments are budgeted at $14.2 million for next year. Last year, the three departments received $13.6 million, but that included $327,486 for new vehicles.

The sheriff's office is not budgeted for any new vehicles for the upcoming budget, but McAdams said that could change.

O'Connor said he is focused on keeping his team together and going.

"If that's what they (the commissioners court) say is the best they can do, then we're not going to close shop," he said.

The court will vote Sept. 16 to adopt the budget.

"As always, up until the time of adoption, anything and everything is subject to change," Pozzi said.

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