WAXAHACHIE — Ellis County Commissioners will consider decreasing county property taxes for residents at its Tuesday meeting. The proposed two-cent tax cut for the upcoming fiscal year would lower the tax rate from $0.413599 to $0.393221.
“We were in the fortunate position this year. A lot of other counties have not had that luxury,” Ellis County Judge Carol Bush said. “We felt that we could still offer the services that we needed and do it in an efficient way, cover our obligations and our duties and still allow for some taxpayer relief.”
Commissioners will look at adopting a $63,565,533 budget for the next fiscal year during the Tuesday meeting. The budget recommends adding new staff members, upgrading computer software, upgrading voting equipment and providing additional funding for health care for inmates at the Wayne McCollum Detention Center. The new budget starts Oct. 1.
Programs used by several departments that perform financial-related tasks could be updated in the next fiscal year. These departments include the treasurer, human resources, auditing, and purchasing. The upgrade is estimated at $2 million.
“I think that it will create some efficiency. There have been some difficulties in the departments utilizing the (current) software. Technology changes so quickly and it is good to evaluate,” Bush said. “Those that were in the process of selection found that there were other systems out there that could better serve our processes and needs.”
An $250,000 upgrade to voting equipment has been budgeted for the Ellis County Elections Department due to the age of the current systems.
“I have been allocating funds for the last several years to tackle another big project that we will be faced with relatively soon within the next year to year and a half. We are replacing the voting equipment,” Bush noted. “That whole system changes and that is almost a $1 million project.”
In the proposed budget, the county commissioners will mull adding additional funds for inmate medical care. These funds will help cover the increase in cost from inmates requesting medical services at the detention center.
“We have to address the inmate medical care and inmate contracts on a yearly basis. Our inmate medical care has really seemed to skyrocket. So this year's budget we will propose adding an additional $250,000 for inmate medical care,” Bush stated. “We have more than a million-dollar contract. We are making sure there is extra in case we run into that situation again.”
The budget recommends the addition of several new staff positions be added to the county at a total cost of about $330,000.
Commissioners have approved a few of these positions such as a property room clerk and a lieutenant for the sheriff’s office as amendments to the current budget.
These positions are looking to be adopted into the regular county budget.
Other positions that could be added to the budget include an assistant for the fire marshal, a clerk for the county and district attorney’s office, a geographic information system technician for the engineering department and two part time positions for support services.
The budget proposes a three-percent raise across the board for county employees due to cost of living adjustments. The impact is at about $800,025.
It also proposed to add additional funding of $120,000 for road improvements for each of the four commissioners
In other business the court,
• Will look at the purchase of a New Holland B95C from Landmark Equipment, a CW16 pneumatic compactor from Holt Cat and a compact track loader from John Deere.
• Will consider awarding a bid for the transport of elections equipment, machines, booths and related items to and from various polling locations for county elections.
• Will consider releasing the county long range thoroughfare plan review and update.
• Will consider signing a Xerox lease agreement for County Court at Law 2 for $199.93 per month.
• Will hear from Ellis County Fire Marshal Tim Birdwell on enacting a possible burn ban.
• Will look at a resolution to convey struck off properties for public use to the City of Ennis.
• Will look at approving the holiday, payroll and commissioners court schedules for the 2017-2018 fiscal years.
• Will have a public hearing for proposed increases for expenses of elected officials for the 2017-2018 fiscal year budget.
• Will consider approval of the salaries, expenses, and allowances for elected officials for the 2017-2018 fiscal year budget.
• Will consider a donation of stone to Waxahachie ISD for benches.
• Will discuss Donelson Construction Company Sealant Technologies new product the chip lock.
• Will consider accepting the donation of three JP patrol rifles totaling $4,617 from James and Sarena Moir of Moir Watershed Services.
• Will consider authorizing Bush to sign a new contract with the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Ellis County to provide important services for residents of the county including training residents to serve as CASA volunteer advocates in child abuse cases. The contract is for $20,000 a year and is renewable for three years.
• Will consider the authorization to refund $87,125.85 to Holcim for the 2012 tax year requisite interest amount.
• Will consider authorizing approval for payment to the North Central Texas Council of Governments for the LIRAP program.
The commissioners' court meeting will take place at 2 p.m. on Tuesday in the second-floor courtroom of the historic Ellis County Courthouse. The courthouse is located at 101 W. Main St. in downtown Waxahachie.