County commissioners discuss budget

Preliminary numbers for FY 2022 include $11.3M increase in expenditures

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
The Ellis County Historic Courthouse.

With the budget for the upcoming 2021-2022 fiscal year beginning to come into focus, the Ellis County Commissioners’ Court took a deeper dive into the numbers during Tuesday’s regular bi-weekly meeting.

County Judge Todd Little went over several budget requests, and adjustments that his office has made. For instance, Little said the budget for the Fire Marshal’s office was added back in after being left out of the last spreadsheet. The County Attorney’s budget was also amended because the amount was overstated, Little added.

The proposed budget accounts for all capital improvements of more than $5,000, including vehicles, computers, HVAC and construction. The total of personnel requests for fiscal year 2022 would be about $3.8 million, the equipment requests total would be about $4.5 million and the cost-of-living adjustments for all staff would be about $1.8 million, including contributions, if set at 5 percent.

Little said his office is on track to file a proposed budget with the County Clerk’s Office by July 30. At that point, numerous notices will go out, and if a salary is contested, it will go before a Grievance Committee that was formed earlier this year.

The total increase in expenditures in the proposed budget is $11.3 million. Little said the total amount of expenditures in the current 2021 budget is $60.8 million, which he said was held as low as possible because of COVID-19 uncertainty.

The Ellis County Tax Assessor/Collector expects to have all assessed value appraisals totaled by July 25, Little told commissioners, which will give the county a revenue amount to plan for. Once those numbers are received, Little said, the budget can be adjusted accordingly.

“There will be some trimming, I’m sure,” Little said, “based on what your priorities are and what we have discussed in our budget workshops. And then we’ll proceed forward with that.”

The appraisal values should be ready in advance of the next Commissioners’ Court meeting, July 27.

All commissioners except Precinct 2 Commissioner Lane Grayson were present.

Other items

• Approved consent agenda items included previous meeting minutes, acceptance of reports, and several budgetary line-item adjustments.

• The court moved quickly through approval of plats of a 1.726-acre property on the south side of McCrady Road near Ennis, a 14.096-acre property on the west side of Neck Road near Ferris, a 12.431-acre property on the south side of Old Alma Road in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Ennis, a 2.841-acre property on the northeast corner of the intersection of FM 66 and Richard Road near Waxahachie, and a 14.878-acre property on the south side of Marion Road near Venus.

• Commissioners approved the purchase of a Bomag soil stabilizer/recycler in the amount of $414,615 for Road and Bridge Precinct 1 from R.B. Everett & Company.

• An interlocal purchasing agreement with the city of Red Oak was approved.

• A one-year lease at the rate of $9,750 per month was renewed with Leasing Impressions Commercials LLC for a property at 301 North 8th Street in Midlothian. The property houses the Precinct 4 constable and justice of the peace offices. A second one-year lease extension for a property at 330 North 8th Street, Suite 106-108 owned by the same landlord, hosting the Midlothian Tax Office, was approved at $3,950 per month. Both leases are for the second year of a 4-year renewable agreement.

• The court agreed to solicit bids for a 5-year contract for emergency bottled water. The contract would only be activated in an emergency.

• A cost-sharing payment to the city of Ovilla for $96,935 was approved for design and construction services for the Bryson Road and Water Street bridge project.

• A food services contract with Correctional Food Service GP, Inc. for the Ellis County Detention Center was renewed for one year with a 3-percent increase to $1.221 per meal for a count of up to 325 inmates, and $1.193 per meal for a count of 326 to 450 inmates.

• Commissioners approved the purchase of furniture in installation services from Oak Cliff Office Products for the county’s new Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program in a total amount of $33,269. The county has targeted Sept. 1 for the opening of the new facility.

• A 12-month agreement with TransUnion Risk and Alternative Data Solutions Inc. was approved for the District Attorney’s Office in the amount of $125 per month.

• The payment of a $41,500 invoice from Lookup Properties for plans and architectural services for the JJAEP addition to the Ellis County Juvenile Probation  Building was approved.

• The court approved the merger of the county’s Indigent Health Office in Midlothian with the main office in Ennis. County indigent care coordinator Terri Klein told the court the Midlothian office has not seen much clientele traffic, and transportation will be provided to Ennis for anyone in that city needing it.

• The county’s health insurance coverage and premiums through the Texas Association of Counties and Employee Benefits Pool were renewed for the 2021-2022 fiscal year with a 9.5-percent increase in medical premiums, a 6.3-percent increase in dental and no increase in vision.

• Following an executive session, commissioners agreed to contest a pollutant discharge permit application by the Lakeview Municipal Utility District.  The court also approved an $8,050 contract increase with Campbell & Associates Law Firm PC related to a Texas Bar administrative matter, and approved an escrow agreement for $185,000 with the city of Waxahachie regarding the sale of the former classroom wing of the old First Baptist Church campus at 301 North Rogers Street in Waxahachie.