More about the county budget

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

Each year as I review the county budget proposal with you, I tend to emphasize the things that are new or changing, but there are a number of things that we fund year after year that you may not even realize that you are paying for when you write the check to pay your county taxes each year. Let me tell you about a few of them just in case you haven’t heard.

I think I’ve talked about the fact that we contribute some $90,000 to the various volunteer fire departments around the county each year. In my opinion it’s not enough considering the service these folks provide for us, but anyway ... Last year we split our payments to them half in January and half in June, but Commissioner’s Court decided that in 2017 we would go back to paying it all in full in January.

We are a part of a three county - Milam, Falls, and Robertson - Juvenile Probation District and our county’s part of the cost of that operation is $102,000 a year as well as providing office space. They also receive equivalent funding from the other two counties as well as substantial financing from the state.  

The Adult Probation Department is partially funded by the county at only $17,500 year. We also provide office space, and partially fund the Community Service Coordinator at $30,000 a year and her needed equipment and supplies. However, the bulk of the funding for our adult probation function is provided by the state and by supervisory fees actually paid by those who are on probation.

We also partially fund the Milam Appraisal District. Our part is $250,000 a year along with the other taxing entities in the county which are the school districts and the cities.  We also jointly fund the AMR Ambulance Service in the county along with the cities of Cameron and Rockdale  at $95,000 a year each.

We help out the DPS Department by providing them with office space in the Law Enforcement Center and with an office assistant and some equipment support for $55,500 a year; and we provide an office assistant, some salary support, and office space for the County AgriLIFE Extension Service at $96,000 a year.

Last year we had to replace the radio equipment which primarily supports the sheriff’s department operations along with some of the other county first responders which was financed on a seven year lease with option to own arrangement with an annual lease cost of some $79,000 a year and a radio maintenance contract fee of $30,000 a year. In the past this equipment had been paid for by state grant funds; but like so many other state supported programs, when the equipment wears out, state support is no longer available and we’re stuck with the bill.

Same thing has happened with indigent defense and indigent healthcare which were initiated by the feds and were paid for through the state with counties as administrators.  Now in 2017 we are not only administering but budgeting for it as well. The cost will be $264,000 for indigent defense and if we’re lucky we might be reimbursed about $30,000, which is only about 10 percent, sometime during the year next year.

For indigent healthcare it is the same thing. We’re budgeting $506,000 in 2017. By law we’re required to spend up to 8 percent of general fund budget which would be over $800,000 and we’ve been getting reimbursed around  $30,000 or about 5 perecnt. With both of these programs, they still like to tell us how to do it with a myriad of rules and regulations that we are required to follow, or else they threaten to punish and withdraw their generous support.  

Anyway, on that obviously sour note I’ll conclude my list of some more things you always wanted to know about your county’s  budget.