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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2007 12:00 am

Ector County Judge Susan Redford said her final budget proposal for next year totals $38,416,478, and she doesn’t anticipate much opposition when budget hearings start Aug. 1.

Redford said Monday she received individual departments’ budget requests and was surprised to find that a total of 50 additional county

“It was surprising considering we had talked about it and were wanting to avoid requesting additional personnel so we could concentrate on giving the additional salary increase,” Redford said.

When the county judge looked at the requests, she took a relatively hard-line approach.

“I cut all the additional personnel out of my budget proposal except for those in law enforcement,” she said.

Earlier this year, Redford noted the county and other governmental entities must compete with private companies for a limited pool of employees. In order to do that, the goal this year is to implement the second half of an increase in county employee salaries — to help bring their salaries closer to those paid in the private sector.

Sheriff Mark Donaldson, whose department and jail operation account for the largest portion of the total county budget most years, will tally almost a third of it this year — coming in at more than $12.6 million.

Donaldson acknowledged trying to hit the 10 percent budget cutback Redford had requested.

“We’ve tried to cut back on asking for any incidental things, to get through this year with a little less and get the other salary increase to get close to par with the private sector,” the sheriff said.

He noted that though he really needs five additional workers in the jail to meet the requirements of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards in regard to staffing, he only asked for four.

Four departmental requests were for less than the current budget year. They were County Clerk, $976,429, compared to a budget this year of $987,393; County Court-at-Law No. 2, $289,020 from $292,194; County Court-at-Law No. 1, $269,893 from $270,795; and 70th District Court, $142,229 from $149,558.

County Clerk Linda Haney, whose department reduced its request the most from this year’s budget, credited that to the fact she’d budgeted $200,000 last year just for archival projects, taking care of two years’ requests at once.

Haney also noted she was able to reduce her request for education travel and departmental furniture and equipment this year.

Redford said she doesn’t anticipate many major changes when budget hearings start.

“There will be some changes, but I really don’t anticipate a lot of changes,” she said.

Odessa, TX

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