Victoria County leaders begin budget process

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Aug. 5, 2013 at 3:05 a.m.
Updated Aug. 6, 2013 at 3:06 a.m.

In the first day of budget workshops, Victoria County's leaders turned in a wish list of new personnel, equipment and programs totaling more than $3.3 million.

While nothing is complete until county commissioners adopt the budget, they are already showing signs of support for some of the new expenses.

The commissioners are considering whether to add an employee to the Justice of the Peace No. 1 office, an additional computer technician in the information technology department and a probation assistant in Pre-Trial Services.

County Judge Don Pozzi built in funding for those three positions in his proposed budget.

Until the tax rate is set and the budget adopted, nothing is final.

Since 2004, the tax rate has remained the same - 39.86 cents per $100 valuation.

In looking at the upcoming budget, the effective tax rate is 37.79 cents per $100 valuation, and the rollback rate is 42.43 cents per $100 valuation.

The effective tax rate is the rate that will generate the same tax revenue as the previous year, according to the Texas Comptroller. The rollback tax rate raises the same amount of taxes for the general fund as the previous year, plus an 8 percent cushion.

County Auditor Judy McAdams said property taxes make up about 50 percent of the budget.

In 2009 and 2010, Pozzi recalled having to make "substantial cuts" to the budget - including reducing staff and the retirement program, freezing raises and restructuring some departments.

"When you reach a point where your revenues do not cover your expenses, that's the choice you have to make: reduce spending or raise the tax rate," he said.

One of the changes Pozzi is recommending is a 3 percent across the board salary increase, which would cost $533,309, as well as increasing longevity pay from $3 to $4, which adds $54,352 to the budget expenses.

Commissioner Gary Burns said he wants to see longevity pay restructured as "merit pay."

Commissioner Danny Garcia agreed and suggested the entire pay structure should be reworked to become a step-scale.

The budget workshops will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the county courthouse and are expected to continue through the next two weeks.



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