Budget won’t balance, commissioners order cuts
With a Sept. 24 deadline to adopt the new Orange County budget looming, commissioners managed to slash $125,000 from the budget this week cutting the expected deficit to $475,000. Judge Carl Thibodeaux and commissioners have conceded that the budget will not be balanced this year, but they are cutting it as close as they can, still trying to keep the pay matrix in. Budget meetings continue Wednesday and are expected to last all day.
Tuesday commissioners informed departments that have not offered up any voluntary cuts to slash three percent of their budget, not including payroll. “Here’s the deal; the commissioners have done all they can to date with the things in the budget they have control of. We’re not going into everybody’s individual line item budget unless we have to,” said Thibodeaux. “At this time we are requesting a three percent cut to every department budget.” Departments that have already submitted budget cuts voluntarily were omitted from the order. Commissioners have ordered those departments to have cuts ready for Wednesday morning’s budget workshop.
Savings of $95,000 come from road and bridge due to three vacancies that will not be filled.
There will also be a savings of $11,611.56 recovered from cell phone expenses by reviewing plans and consolidating them. “We have analyzed everyone’s plans and came up with the best option for them to continue to use their cell phones at a lower cost,” said Connie Cassidy, County purchasing agent. An additional $1400 savings was found on copier maintenance fees.
Initially, $90,000 was recovered from the road and bridge waste disposal account due to the new compactors that are expected to be used. Wednesday, commissioners had to add back in $15,000 for electricity setups needed for the compactors. “I need to run electricity to the units and then we’ll have to build a concrete slab to set them on,” said Clark Slacum, County engineer. This would be a one-time expenditure and savings in future years should be the $90,000. Currently the County has one compactor on a trial basis.
Another $10,000 was available out of the law library account due to savings when the County switched to a kiosk for inmates at the jail and an online law library for other offices.
A cut of $20,000 was applied to community services; which consists of donations to area organization. They left intact a $20,000 yearly donation to Spindletop (formerly MHMR) and $10,000 to Gift of Life.
There was also a $400 cut in records management.
Vickie Edgerly, the district clerk volunteered $3,900 for a jury counter she no longer needed to purchase. This was in addition to $40,000 already surrendered from the MIS budget.
The veterans’ service office cut $600 from equipment, non-inventory items.
During Monday’s Commissioners Court, Jennifer Haney of the social services department gave commissioners $20,000 from a $100,000 surplus she has this year, but needs to retain most of the surplus for unexpected needs next year. Haney said they never know how many people they will need to serve with indigent healthcare and what their requirements will be. She informed commissioners there would be a bill coming for over $100,000 that is for two clients. Tuesday Haney relinquished an additional $5,400 she realized her department would not need for rental payments. Currently social services rents office space but will no longer need to win emergency management offices relocate to the new building on Farm Road 1442. Social services will then occupy the former emergency management location. Haney expects to be relocated by March.
Commissioners approved the purchase of influenza vaccine from UTMB to be administered to County employees Tuesday, Sept. 25 from 7:30 a.m. To 11 a.m. in the commissioners’ court room. The shots will be administered by Sheriff’s Department nurses who will save the County four dollars per vaccine.