Monday’s first in a three-day series of budget hearings included fiscal year 2011-12 funding requests from 10 county departments.
County Judge John Roane and commissioners held court to financial appeals from administrative, law enforcement and child welfare agencies.
The figures that follow are in flux; none of the proposals necessarily reflect how much money these county agencies will receive for 2012. A finalized version of the proposed budget will be processed in late July and a public hearing, set to include approval of budget amendments, is scheduled for Aug. 16.
Budget hearings continue through this afternoon.
Highlights of Monday’s hearing:
• Ricky Kerr of the county maintenance department requested a 3 percent salary increase for his employees. He also told county officials his department will save $10,000 in lawn care expenses during the coming fiscal year by using county jail inmates. He explained county employee Bobby Davis recently trained to become a licensed jailer, which will authorize him to supervise inmates through manual tasks in some of the department’s service areas.
He later requested the general maintenance fund be raised from $60,000 to $95,000 in 2012 to cover the cost of contracted repairs and painting of the county courthouse — explaining his own department alone doesn’t have the tools or training for it. Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Klement told Kerr he and officials would prefer a detailed maintenance schedule to help them decide how much money to allocate.
• Bonna Burr of the county’s Child Protective Services child welfare board requested $17,000 in county funds for the coming year. The amount is a $3,000 increase; the budget’s drug testing and child welfare expense line items account for much of the cost difference. Burr explained drug testing grows more expensive each year locally since illegal drug use in Cooke County remains prevalent and state funding covers little of the testing cost.
The same funding limits currently apply to special local education programs that benefit children and parents.
“We, as the board, are asked to step up and do a little more,” Burr said. “So that’s what we’re doing with the money.”
• County Court at Law Judge John Morris requested nearly $13,000 in additional county funds to cover continuing education funds for one of his bailiffs; increased travel costs for a court reporter; a salary change for an assistant and other administrative fees.
• Sheriff Mike Compton’s request for his 2012 law enforcement and jail operations budget included funding for two additional jailers.
• Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Jason Brinkley requested an additional $200 for office supplies — offset by an expected $200 decrease in postage costs.
• Members of Abigail’s Arms Cooke County Family Crisis Center requested $25,000 in county funding. The agency, which assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, is grant-funded. It’s operating on $496,000 in 2011 and is projected to receive $471,000 in the next fiscal year, The extra $25,000 will help the center meet its goal of funding a new outreach program for sexual assault victims and will assist the center’s ongoing project of developing an emergency shelter in Cooke County.
• Vicki Robertson of Court Appointed Special Advocates of North Texas said her agency, which assists abused and neglected local children, anticipates upcoming slight cuts in state and government funding. She requested $15,000 from county officials — which is $4,000 more than the agency received for the previous year.
• County Attorney Tanya Davis asked for a 5 percent raise for her employees. She also said her computer budget was drastically reduced in 2010-11, and so her request for the upcoming year is $5,000 versus $1,800.
• County commissioner secretary Vicki Barnes indicated no budget changes.
• Cliff Sicking of Muenster Public Library requested $10,000 in funding for the upcoming fiscal year.