The Parker County commissioners held a budget workshop Wednesday afternoon and approved requests that will be added to the 2019-20 proposed general fund, moving towards a final budget proposal to be adopted on Sept. 19.

The commissioners heard presentations on the building and grounds requests, human services budget, capital requests and salary information.

Building and Grounds Supervisor Kevin Holloway discussed requests that are not in the proposed budget, which include repairs of the electrical and roof replacement of the Parker County Jail, and an additional maintenance tech employee.

“So the areas that are in addition to the budget, which is the same as last year’s budget, would be the amount to replace the roof at the jail and electrical at the jail and this additional maintenance tech would all be in addition to what you’ve previously requested,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden said.

The commissioners unanimously approved adding the roof repairs for the jail in the proposed budget based on a quote from Parsons Roofing of $564,518, but took no action on the electrical repairs or additional employee.

“[Parsons] will continue to honor the January quote of $564,528 and that’s a 15-year labor and material warranty,” County Purchasing Agent Kim Rivas said.

Human services

The human services fund includes mental health, Freedom House, the Abandoned Cemetery Association, senior service center, Child Protective Services, burial expense and the county libraries — Weatherford, East Parker County, Springtown and Azle.

The libraries over the years have requested an increase in their funding and County Judge Pat Deen asked the commissioners to consider bumping that up a little.

“We’ve given the same amount for more than 20 years, I believe, and it’s almost just like saying we’re giving you plenty and we don’t really want to give you anymore than that. My recommendation would be to bump them a little bit,” Deen said. “The library has been a point of discussion and sensitive topic for a long time and I think we need to at least bump these some. I just think we need to support these, if nothing else just a little bit more than what we’re doing right now, and it sends a message that we do value them.”

Walden said he supports the libraries, but was in favor of approving the same amount of last year at this time and then coming back to it if they can once they’re closer to a final budget.

“The proposed budget cut each of these and so they’ve been restored to what they were before. There’s no one in this room that appreciates the library more than me, however, if we’re faced with a situation between our contributions in these areas and increasing these from what they were last year, we would be taking money from another source and I’m probably going to spend that money on the electrical at the jail,” Walden said. “I appreciate every one of these and the library has made their needs very well known. I want to be able to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayers out there, so what I’m in favor of is supporting where we are right now and make this one of the very first pages we go back to if we see that there’s a pathway to do that with reasonable funds.”

The commissioners unanimously approved the same funding as last fiscal year, which is Weatherford Public Library, $45,100; East Parker County Library, $19,800; Springtown Public Library, $15,930; Azle Public Library, $4,410; MHMR, $24,500; Freedom House, $29,400; Abandoned Cemetery Association, $9,800; CPS, $34,600; senior service center, $30,400; and burial expense, $10,000.

Capital requests

The commissioners reviewed some of the capital requests, which included 10 vehicles requested by the Parker County Sheriff’s Office.

“We would like to do all of them, without a doubt, once again top priorities and this is one of them,” Walden said. “Replacing vehicles for the sheriff’s office has to be the No. 1 priority.”

Parker County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Russ Authier said that seven vehicles would be a minimum right now.

“We have 10 with over 130,000 miles on them right now, so they think seven at a minimum and it’s roughly $44,454 per car, so you’re looking at about $311,178 for seven outfitted Tahoes,” Authier said.

The commissioners unanimously approved the seven Tahoe vehicles for the sheriff’s office budget.

Salary update

County Employee Benefits Coordinator Becky McCullough presented information on how the county could fund a 3.5 percent raise for employees.

“There’s co-mingled money that’s already sitting in the insurance escrow fund balance — that’s employee money and county money that’s been in there — and that’s been growing for 10 years. So that fund has now grown to where you ask the question of how much money in that account is too much to hold for a rainy day,” McCullough said. “So I went to our consultants to ask what we could do to help benefit employees. You could lower the county contribution side into that fund balance, so we’re just going to lower the amount we contribute bi-weekly through payroll and the suggestion is to lower it about 12.5 percent, which is the equivalent of $900,000 to where that savings can be used as an offset to fund county employees’ raises at 3.5 percent. Basically we’re giving money back to the employees for handling their plans correctly over the last 10 years.”

The commissioners then heard from County Treasurer Jenny Barnwell and unanimously approved her request to upgrade an employee and withdraw her previous one.

“On the initial request for two of my employees, I’m going to withdraw that request, but I am going to request that on my payroll administrator that you do upgrade her grade level to six,” Barnwell said. “She is currently in the wrong grade, so grade six will come at no cost and we’ll gladly take the 3 percent [raises] for any difference there.”

Recap

County Auditor Brianna Fowler presented a recap at the end of the budget workshop.

“So the update for building and grounds for the jail roof at the quoted price and the HVAC, the approval of the human services at the prior year amount, approval of the seven Tahoes for the sheriff’s office, which include outfitting and striping, and from what was in the last one, the adjusted fund balance need is $1,734,803,” Fowler said. “This is what we would need currently to take from fund balance at the proposed rate at this time. That does include the insurance scenario that has been presented, but it does not include elected officials at this time until we have that budget workshop.”

The full proposed budget can be found on the Parker County website at parkercountytx.com

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