During the budget workshop Tuesday, the Hays County Commissioners Court heard presentations from the District Attorney’s Office, Treasurer’s Office, County Clerk’s Office, Office of Emergency Services, Constable Pct. 5, Constable Precinct 4 and Constable Precinct 1.
Presenters kept their budget requests brief but thorough to explain the reasons for their requests.
Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau did not request any new personnel but asked commissioners to consider salary reclassifying several of his administrative positions to be closer to market value and remain competitive with other counties.
Britney Richey, Hays County Treasurer, said the retiree committee was asking the court to maintain the county’s current retirement program at its existing level without a cost of living increase for the retirees.
The treasurer’s office was asking for up to three new positions to help take care of the county’s approximately 1100 employees.
Richey said the Treasurer’s office is “underwater” currently with the amount of work coming through her office; last year, her employees worked over “2,000 hours over the standard 40 hour work week.”
County Clerk Dr. Elaine Cardenas requested the court to reconsider funding two clerk positions in the court’s division but pushing their start date back from Oct. 1, 2020, to April 2021.
“Our criminal caseload alone this year has nearly doubled what it was at the same time last year,” Cardenas said. “We just don’t have the staff to staff all courtrooms, and it’s usually two clerks per courtroom.”
Mike Jones, Director of Emergency Services, proposed the department lease the truck needed to pull the EMS’ services trailer, which would reduce the budget from $47,000 to under $8,166 for a lease, $1,500 for a refrigerator for the Emergency Service Center and equipment to outfit the truck with WIFI for communication purposes on site.
Constable Precinct 4 Ron Hood requested a title change for his Justice Clerk to Constable Justice Clerk trainer at a higher pay grade and an additional motor officer to help improve safety on county roads and reduce speeding.
“If you will fund the equipment now, I will be willing to delay the hiring of the position until April,” Hood said.
According to Hood, it takes up to five months for all the equipment needed for the position to come in; if ordered at the beginning of the budget year, the equipment can be ready and waiting in January when the new motor officer is hired April.
The Hays County Constable Precinct 1’s office is requesting five items, which include one new deputy, one new bailiff, regrade of the Justice Clerk from 108 to 110 with a title change, one handheld radio and one new vehicle.
Judge Ruben Becerra proposed a recommended budget for the Fiscal Year 2021 which included the following among others:
- Operating budget requests were reduced to current budgets EXCEPT for new programs
- No new or replacement vehicles EXCEPT for one for the office of emergency services
- $80,000 for water line improvements for the new jail was kept.
- $90,000 for software and hardware projects moved to the tobacco settlement fund
- $687,000 for the cost of living increase for near 1000 employees included: merit not included
- $715,000 for new personnel for the Hays County Jail
“I was trying to reach for a good fiscal document that would provide the necessities for our community,” Becerra continued. “My truest goal is to provide something that is useful as a jumping off point for this court.”
According to Becerra, the tax rate for his 2020 budget is at .4187 per $100 of valuation.
FY 2020’s approved tax rate is .4237 per $100 of valuation.
Commissioners are slated for a final budget workshop on August 25 at 10 AM. The budget is expected to be approved by the end of September and will take effect October 1.