During the first Commissioners Court meeting of February an overview of the first month's financial activity for the county was given. Not sure that I fully understand what was said, but my take was that Milam County has budgeted to spend more than it will take in this year.
Judge Barkemeyer discussed several accounts that were behind in revenue and pointed out those that were over budget. One thing you need to know is that one month of data does not really give a good picture of the overall performance of the county's financials. January tends to be a slow month anyway. One good point was that the county has collected 75% of the taxes due for the current budget year.
He pointed out that the county has budgeted expenses of 10.6 million and budgeted revenue of 10.2. He attempted to convince the audience that there was some way to make up the 400,000 dollar difference. A very optimistic position from my viewpoint.
Herbie Vaughn is no longer Constable in precinct 3 and there is no evidence that his successor is going to pursue traffic enforcement as vigorously as Herbie did. Housing of out of county inmates is running below projections for the 2013 budget. A loss of approximately 25,000 dollars will be realized with the loss of Nocturnal Fest in 2013. Not to mention the estimated 200,000 dollars of extra revenue for local business that it has accounted for in the past.
He also mentioned the unsure costs of the capital murder trial that will be held this year. Now that the District Attorney has decided to pursue the death penalty in this case it will not be a cheap trial. Not only will the cost of the trial be borne by the county, but the automatic appeals will also come out of our pocket. Judge Barkemeyer went on to say this was the one surprise that might be in the county's future. I wonder if he has checked the price of gas lately?
My stance has always been that county budgeting is a very difficult process. I believe that you have to be somewhat conservative in planning both expenses and revenue. Not all traffic fines will be collected and inmate housing is no guarantee of income. I just hope that Judge Barkemeyer's optimism proves to be on target. You can view his presentation online at www.milamcounty.net