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County reviews changes to proposed budget

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Polk County LogoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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Changes to the proposed fiscal year 2024 budget were reviewed by County Judge Sydney Murphy during the regular meeting of the Polk County Commissioners Court Tuesday.

The current ad valorem tax revenue, including both current and delinquent, is $27,839,181 and this is based on a 96% collection rate with a tax rate of 0.583000. Murphy said that 11.6897% of the budget goes to debt service, which is a significant decrease from previous years. She said basically 63% of the proposed budget is going to the general fund and a little over 25% is going to road and bridge, which includes a $906,782 increase for road and bridge from the prior year.

Changes to the proposed budget include updating revenues derived from county property rent such as Anco Insurance and Habitat for Humanity ReStore which are both located in the building in the 300 block of North Beatty that the county recently acquired. A 4% increase earmarked for discretionary salaries will be a new line item for every single department, whereas it was previously just one line item. An additional change to the proposed budget is increased allocation to the volunteer fire departments based on a formula determined by the fire chiefs.

Final approval of the budget is slated for a special called meeting of the Court at 10 a.m. Aug. 15.

Based on the recommendation of Polk County Fire Marshal John Fugate, the Court approved adoption of Fire Code-NFPA 1 Fire Code 2021 Edition from the National Fire Protection Association.

Several requests from Sheriff Byron Lyons were on the agenda.

“The auditor’s office estimates that due to vacancies, at least $217,482 would be remaining in the jail salary line item at the end of this fiscal year. The sheriff is requesting a portion of it to buy down all of the accrued FLSA and holiday hours and all but 20 hours of the comp hours earned so far by the dispatchers and the jail staff.” County Judge Sydney Murphy said. “The cost to do this will be about $100,482.09. He’s also requesting to move $30,000 from jail salaries to sheriff vehicle maintenance to cover the overage in that line item to fix two units that need new transmissions which will leave approximately $117,000 in jail salaries at the end of the budget year.”

The Court approved the requests.

Based on a request by the auditor’s office to begin the process of annual bids for the precincts, the Court approved advertising for fiscal year 2024 annual bids. This includes road materials, bulk limestone, tires, oil, grease, gas, diesel, pest control services, motor grader blades, material hauling and the demolition of disposal of nuisance abatement buildings.

The Court entered into an executive session for deliberations about officers and employees regarding the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline or dismissal of a public officer or employee; or to hear a complaint or a charge against an officer or employee. However, no action was taken upon return to open session.

In personnel matters, the Court reviewed and approved personnel action form requests submitted by department heads since the last meeting.

The Court also approved the fiscal year 2023 budget revisions and amendments as presented by the county auditor’s office.

Items on the consent agenda included:

•Approval of the minutes of the July 25 regular meeting;

•Approval of the schedules of bills;

•Receipt and recording of personnel action form requests submitted by elected officials since the last meeting;

•Approval of a memorandum of understanding with Polk Central Appraisal District to provide support during a time of natural or manmade disaster to include mapping services;

•Approval of a request from District Attorney Shelly Bush Sitton for asset forfeiture expenditure of seized property not to exceed $435 for training expenses;

•Approval of the re-appointment of Rachel Drake to Burke Center Board of Trustees for a two-year term beginning Sept. 1, 2023;

•Termination of a memorandum of understanding between Polk County and Precinct 1 Constable Scott Hughes approved on March 24, 2020 to provide constable reserve deputy patrol in Precinct 1;

•Termination of a memorandum of understanding between Polk County and Precinct 1 Constable Scott Hughes approved on March 8, 2022 regarding the monthly salary of Beau Price; and

•Receipt and recording of the 258th and 411th district judges’ orders setting the fiscal year compensation for the county auditor, assistant auditors, court reporters, court coordinators, bailiffs and labor pool staff pursuant to Local Government Code.

•Bobby Gokey addressed the Court during the portion of the meeting earmarked for  public comments, attempting to clarify statements previously made by Tyler Epstein regarding San Francisco Road in Precinct 1, calling Epstein’s statements untrue.

Lindell Mitchell of the Livingston Church of Christ opened the meeting with prayer.


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