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Groveton Times - Local News

Copyright 2017 - Polk County Publishing Company

 

Commissioners call special session to discuss 2018 county budget

 

By Mollie LaSalle

Trinity County Commissioners Court called a special session Tuesday, August 22. County Judge Doug Page called the meeting to order at 9:15. The first item on the agenda was the approval of claims and invoices and the approval of general funds, which County Auditor Bonnie Kennedy laid out in detail. These were unanimously approved by the court. Judge Page swiftly moved on to the next item on the agenda and the reason the special session was called, the budget workshop for preparation of the 2018 Trinity County budget. Kennedy brought to the attention of the court that the previous years' budgets were miscalculated in regards to Social Security, Retirement and longevity, and she corrected these figures. Also, no salary increases were included in the proposed budget for 2018. Precinct Three Commissioner Neal Smith noted the disparity in the compensation for the counties JP's. A comment was made that each JP should receive the same salary, regardless of the workload in each individual precinct. A long and lengthy discussion began about salary increases with Commissioner Smith stating that he would like to see everybody get a raise, whether it's 3% or 5%, across the board. It was brought to the attention of the court that there is currently one nonelected official in the county that currently makes more than most of the elected officials. This was hotly debated by the Commissioners when it was learned that the nonelected official was scheduled to get an increase in salary. It was noted by the court that the Prosecuting Attorney shall fix salaries, subject to the approval of the Commissioner's court. Smith then went on to state that they need to raise the salaries of elected officials equal to or above what non-elected officials currently make. County Treasurer Bob Dockens also noted that in his personal opinion, it was unfair, and that "Elected officials should make more than secretaries." County Auditor Bonnie Kennedy further sated that the court would have to give themselves a 7% increase in what they are making now to make more than what the non-elected official is making. Commissioner Smith state that since the individual in question was not present to justify their salary and possible increase, the court should stop discussing the matter. Courthouse maintenance was discussed, specifically re-modeling currently being done to the Sub-Courthouse in Trinity. Out of a budget of $20,000 (2017) $3000 has been used, and mostly electrical work is left to be done, before October 1. Commissioners noted that Health Insurance for county employees is putting a bite in the budget. Trinity County currently has no County Health Officer, as it is not required by law, although the city of Groveton does have a City Health Officer. Judge Page noted that out of a total budget of $140,000 for Indigent Health Care, only a small portion of that had been used to date. However the Mental Health budget has far exceeded their budget of $15,000 to date. The county museum coordinator's salary was discussed and County Clerk Shasta Bergman noted that Susanne Waller performs a valuable service to the residents of Trinity County. She stated that Waller receives several calls from individuals on a daily basis wanting assistance with genealogy research, at times utilizing old records at the courthouse in her searches. Her salary is paid through the hotel/motel tax, which is in the counties general fund. The court also agreed that the Sheriff's office would not be allowed to purchase any new vehicles until fiscal year 2019, when they could pay cash for the vehicles. The meeting was adjourned shortly after 1 p.m. and will re-convene Monday, August 28, at the regular time to finalize the proposed budget and approve payroll.

 

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