Commissioners Approve GCAD Amended Budget
County receives “clean opinion” audit.
Published Feb. 20, 2012 @ 11:48 p.m.
Jeff Lott and Royce Hart, on behalf of the Garza Central Appraisal District, came before Commissioners’ Court to ask for a budget amendment to cover the cost of increase in salary for the three employees of the Appraisal District. The Adopted Budget total is $335,831.44. The proposed Amended Budget total is $354,970.55.
Speaking to the court, Lott explained that “the job description and duties have doubled [in the Appraisal District office] the past year. There have been unfunded state mandates and with the addition of the lake, the work load has increased.” He further said that the Appraisal Board had “been remiss in taking care of pay for the staff. The net increase for the county would be $2,000 for this budget year,” Lott said.
Six entities contribute to the Central Appraisal District budget: Garza County (27.5%); Garza County Hospital District (27.0%); Post ISD (27.41%); City of Post (12%); Southland ISD (5.9%); Crosbyton CISD (.18%). All entities are required to vote on the GCAD budget amendment. The majority determines whether it is adopted.
Garza County’s share of the total amended budget will be $83,173.80, the county portion of the adopted 2011-2012 budget was $77,910.54. Considering refunds to the taxing entities, the county’s portion would be approximately $2000 and an additional $5000-$6000 for next year’s budget.
The amended budget for the pay increases was precipitated by the decision of Chief Appraiser Shirley Smith to retire at the end of February, 2012 and the responsibility of the GCAD Board to fill the position. "We advertised for a month and only received 3 applicants," Lott continued. "One was qualified and she was reluctant to accept the position at the increased salary because of the increased responsibilities of the Chief Appraiser. This increase would be fair pay."
County Judge Lee Norman presented information from the Texas Tax Code 6.06/Appraisal District Budget and Financing stating: “The [Appraisal] board may amend the approved budget at any time, but the secretary of the board must deliver a written copy of a proposed amendment to the presiding officer of the governing body of each taxing unit participating in the district not later than the 30th day before the date the board acts on it. The GCAD voted on the budget amendment in December, 2011 and presented the notice to each taxing entity via letters dated January 19, 2012.
The Judge reminded the Court that “county employees did not receive a pay increase in the current budget…plus there were some jobs cut. We can only amend a budget for an emergency.”
“Not having a Chief Appraiser is an emergency,” Lott responded.
“Garza Central Appraisal District employees received a 3% raise the past two years,” Commissioner Ted Brannon said. “Garza County employees got a 2% raise last year and none this year. “ Brannon also stated that even if the increase were divided between several entities, “all of this increase comes out of the tax payers’ pocket. Times are tough. This has to be considered.”
“I am not opposed to these changes,” Judge Norman said. “The time and amount cause me concern.”
“I wish this had happened before the budget process, but it didn’t,” said Commissioner Morris.
Commissioner McDaniel expressed the need for the Commissioners “to back these appointed Boards.”
The majority of the Commissioners voted to approve the GCAD amended budget, with Judge Norman and Commissioner Morris opposing the issue.
Independent auditor Joe F. Hays, CPA requested an amended letters of engagement for services provided for the 2010-11 audit ending September 30, 2011. The amended is needed because of the additional work required to audit federal grant funds received by the county. The amended letters of engagement were approved as presented.
Next Hays presented the annual (2011) Report of Audit of Garza County and reviewed the summary report with the court. The county was issued a “clean opinion” for the audit for the year ending September 30, 2011. “You operated within your budgets,” Hays said. “The county has very effective operations.”
Post-Garza County Emergency Medical Services manager Rodney Tidwell updated the Court regarding application for a new tax ID number, revalidation process and intention of EMS to obtain non-profit 501 (c) 3 status. Because of multiple name changes over the years, the current tax ID number does not match with the current name of the service. This situation has caused trouble with Medicare funding. The City of Post, Garza County and the Garza County Health Care District will be the controlling members of the service.
Burn Ban Extended
The order for Garza County Prohibition of Outdoor Burning was extended for 90 days until May 23, 2011. The ban includes the stipulation that any party wanting to burn during this time period must receive permission from Judge Norman.
In other business, the Commissioners voted to advertise for two weeks for bids for a used maintainer for Precinct 4 according to proposed specifications. The Court also approved a computer maintenance contract with Robert “Bubba” Smith of Postech Solutions to do basic preventative maintenance and on call services.
The Commissioners accepted sealed bids for county property Lots 57-60, Block 2, Hart addition (located at 612 May St.) in the original town site of Post. One sealed bid was submitted for $750. Attorney Munk said the taxes owed are $9665.41, court costs owed are $387 and the adjudged value is $12,290. The Court voted to accept the bid.
The Court also voted to engage PSC to conduct a more in depth study of the courthouse heating and cooling project. Four proposals from Parkhill, Smith and Cooper were presented with estimated costs ranging from $300,000 to $346,000. “The boiler has gone out making this issue crucial,” Judge Norman explained. “But we can’t control the timing.”
Clerk Plummer asked for, and received, approval of the Court to accept credit cards for payments in the clerk’s office using the services of Certified Payments No. 1, Limited. There are no fees or costs to public entities.
One budget amendment and 3 line item transfers were approved as were the minutes of the January 23 regular meeting. The precinct and countywide accounts payable for January 24, 2012 through February 13, 2012 were also approved as presented.
Judge Norman will meet next week with the contractor on the elevator project to go through the punch list. He added that the project came in under budget.
The judge received support from the Commissioners to move forward on the following projects: Courtroom renovations, moving the commissioners’ courtroom to the south side of the third floor and to receive estimates to turn a small space on the first floor next to the elevator into a break room. He also distributed a county map to the court for rural planning. “This is an opportunity to submit project requests to the South Plains Association of Governments (SPAG),” the Judge explained. Submissions are due during the next month.