Commissioners to vote on proposed county budget Monday

Ellis County Precinct 3 County Commissioner Paul Perry.

ELLIS COUNTY — The Ellis County Commissioners' Court will hold a final public hearing on Monday, September 14 regarding the proposed 2015-2016 county budget. The court will follow with a vote to adopt the budget.

The Commissioners' Court meeting and public hearing will be held Monday, September 14 at 10 a.m. on the second floor of the Historic Ellis County Courthouse located at 101 W. Main St. in Waxahachie.

Controversy is surrounding the proposed budget Ellis County Judge Carol Bush is proposing. The proposal cuts the Precinct 3 Road and Bridge budget significantly.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Paul Perry's overall budget will see a reduction of $174,017 while the other three commissioners will see an increase in their overall budgets.

"Precinct 3 is the largest precinct by far, in terms of road miles," Perry said. "If one is considering the whole county, one has to consider that precinct 3, at over 290 miles — about 200 paved miles, is approximately 50 miles larger than the next largest precinct. Our total county revenues are up by about 8 percent, yet the Pct. 3 budget is going down while all three other commissioners' budgets are increasing."

Precinct 1 Commissioner Dennis Robinson will see a $10,116 increase in his overall budget. However, his operating budget will be reduced by $25,455. His operating budget was $218,050 during 2014-2015 and will reduce by $25,455 to $192,595 in 2015-2016 if the proposed budget passes.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Layne Grayson will see a $116,053 increase in his overall budget. His operating budget was $90,425 during 2014-2015 and will increase by $81,212 to $171,637 if the proposed budget passes.

Perry in Precinct 3 will see a $174,017 decrease in his overall budget. His operating budget will be reduced by $210,928. His operating budget was $280,155 during 2014-2015 and will reduce by $210,928 to a mere $69,227 if the proposed budget passes.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Kyle Butler will see the largest increase at $187,178 in his overall budget. His operating budget will also see the largest increase. His operating budget was $131,716 during 2014-2015 and will increase by $155,171 to $286,887.

Every commissioner is also budgeted $962,265 in funds in another account provided by the state. These amounts are traditionally equal among each commissioner precinct.

The reduction in Robinson's and Perry's operating budgets amount to the same increases that Grayson and Butler will see in their operating budgets. The total reallocation of funds amounts to $236,383.

Perry estimates that Precinct 3 has approximately 50 more miles than the next largest precinct, thus justifying the need for more funds and explains his outrage over the proposed reduction in his operating budget.

Various online comments from residents accuse Bush of retaliating against Perry for past disagreements. Additionally, residents have accused Bush of attempting to pit the four commissioners against one another.

"This has every appearance of being retaliation," Perry said.

Bush previously wrote a column in the Waxahachie Daily Light where she stated, "The proposed budget contemplates an equal distribution among the four precincts of all road and bridge funds. The distribution targets areas demonstrating the fastest growth and need due to new subdivision construction, population density and high traffic counts. Commissioners will have the opportunity to consider and approve the proposed distribution or develop an alternative allocation."

The road and bridge budgets have not been equal in recent history. Money has always been allocated according to need — based on the number of road miles requiring maintenance and bridges needing repair.

Unless the commissioners vote to modify the budget and restore Perry's funding, residents in precinct 3 may experience a negative impact with road repairs. Other commissioners could propose reducing their budgets in order to restore funding for Precinct 3, they could propose to move general funds to Precinct 3 or they could go along with Bush's proposal for the significant reduction.

The new budget proposes the property tax rate to remain at 0.413599 per $100 valuation. However, the county anticipates an increase in tax revenue because of higher property values and new property added to the tax revenue. A revenue increase of $3,521,273 is expected over the 2014-2015 budget, which amounts to an 8.058 percent increase. Of that, $1,128,166 is expected to be raised from new property added to the tax roll.

A three percent cost of living pay increase for all county employees is proposed in addition to a three percent cost of living increase for all elected officials that recently passed through the Ellis County Commissioners' Court.

Perry and Grayson voted against the salary increase for elected officials.

Perry opted to sign an affidavit refusing his raise which results in his increase being returned to the general fund of the county budget thus directly benefiting taxpayers.

Grayson chose to accept his pay increase and hold a press conference to personally donate his raise to CASA and Gingerbread House.

The commissioners will also hold the regular Commissioners' Court meeting to conduct regular county business.

Click here to read the full agenda for Monday's Commissioners' Court meeting.

Click on an article below to read our past coverage of the proposed budget.

First public hearing on proposed county budget to be held Monday

Proposal to cut Pct. 3 Road and Bridge budget; Commissioner Perry calls it retaliation

County Commissioners to vote Monday on raises for elected officials