Ector County Commissioners cautioned department heads to remain fiscally conservative this upcoming budget cycle, despite the rise in revenue projected for the county.
The Commissioners’ Court opened discussion during a regularly scheduled meeting to briefly touch on goals for next year.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Simmons said the current budget sought to remedy staffing problems with turnover and retention by providing a pay increase for county employees. The Court previously approved a 16 percent pay increase for law enforcement and a 10 percent increase for other county employees that went into effect Oct. 1.
Simmons said the focus will shift more toward filling positions and adding staff this financial planning season. He said the Ector County Law Enforcement Center jail expansion, which is expected to be completed the same month the new budget cycle begins, will likely come to the forefront during the decision-making process.
“This year we’re trying to just fill vacancies to keep law enforcement and the jail staffed so we can function out there, and hopefully over the next year try and bring back inmates that we’re currently shipping out of the county and housing in other counties at a cost that’s pretty significant,” he said.
Although the county has seen increased property values and anticipates about $12 to $15 million in sales tax to be collected from the newly created assistance district, commissioners say it will not be enough assurance to loosen their grip on the budget.
Simmons said that the economy may have improved but that “does not mean that we are just overflowing with funds.”
Numerous county concerns are demanding attention from officials at this time, and as revenues have increased, so has the cost to address issues such as dated infrastructure and county roadways amid heavy oilfield traffic.
The estimated cost for all county roadway projects totals about $188 million.
Simmons told department heads that caution was key and warned officials not to set themselves up for disappointment by requesting a plethora of new employees, equipment and pay raises. Until items like the assistance district sales tax revenue are more certain, the Court is not ready to “open up the flood gates and fill everyone’s wishes,” he said, “we are still looking at a fairly tight year.”
The OA previously reported in September 2018 the county passed a $64 million budget for fiscal year 2019.
The Tuesday meeting marked the beginning of the budget planning calendar and a proposed budget for 2020 will be completed by early August. The final budget must be adopted by commissioners by Sept. 10.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, COMMISSIONERS:
- Approved frequency coordination for preparation on joining the City of Odessa radio system.
- Accepted Navasota Dr. and OIDC Road as County Roads per County Specs., Ector County, Texas.
- Approved creating a Facebook page for the Ector County Tax Office.
- Transferred County Agrilife Extension Agent used truck, Unit No. 893 to Highways and Streets Department, for the purpose of supporting operational activities requiring traffic control.
- Accepted the donation of a Triple Axle Trailer from the Ector County Sheriff’s Office for the Ector County Highways and Streets Department.
- Approved settlement selection option pertaining to Total Loss Declaration by State Auto pertaining to Unit No. 907 Sheriff’s Office Vehicle – 2009 Chevrolet Impala LT – VIN – No. 2G1WS57M691273822.
- Approved tabling Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the Engineering and Program/Project Management Services for County Roadway Projects 2019.
- Rejected the purchase of trucks for the Environmental Enforcement Department.
- Approved a Master Intergovernmental Cooperative Purchasing Agreement with Omnia Partners to participate in their Cooperative Purchasing Program.
- Approved Travelers Government Risk Renewal Application (2019-2020 Policy Term) and updated SOV (Statement of Values) for submission to Travelers Property Casualty Company of America in partnership with USI Insurance Services.
- Approved the Permian Basin Community Centers DBA PermiaCare Community Based Services Agreement between Ector County and PermiaCare for providing community based mental health services for jail inmate services in compliance with the Sandra Bland Act.
- Approved an Agreement to Contribute Right of Way Funds for SL 338 at East Yukon Road in the amount of $81,417.
- Approved the Interlocal Agreement between Hudspeth County and Ector County for a rate increase for housing and care of Ector County inmates.
- Approved request to hire part time jailers.
- Approved request to hire Road Maintenance Technician II at a732-05 due to experience.
- Approved motion to authorize Ector County Projects Manager David Peck to investigate county regulation options for roadside vendors operating in the county right of way.
- Approved a request to abandon an undeveloped portion of Kingston Ave. in Precinct 1, Ector County, Texas.
- Approved Skipper Estates being a 10.00 acre tract out of Section 46, Block 44, T-2-5, T&P Ry. Co. Survey, Ector County, Texas.
- Approved MHRC Plans for Jacquez Lot 9, Block 2, Ranch Acres, Ector County, Texas.
- Approved MHRC Neyba RV Park at 15411 S. Mares St. Odessa, Texas 79766 Ector County, Texas.
- Approved MHRC Plans for CB’s Mobile Home Park 10150 W. Dunn Odessa, Texas 79763, Ector County, Texas.
- Approved line item transfer to Equipment Services Fund, Motor Vehicle Equipment, 051-770-5505, from Equipment Services Fund, Motor Vehicle Repairs and Maintenance, 051-770-5251 for $5,200.
- Approved budget amendment to General Fund, Non Departmental, Other General Expense, 001-950-5402 from General Fund, Unreserved Fund Balance, 001-3310 for $30,065.
- Approved Accounts Payable Fund Requirements Report for May 28, 2019.