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JUDGE: Working on the county budget for 2024

When we came into office in January, I met with all the department heads and then explained that we would be working on the budget starting in February with the goal of being about 80% complete by the time we had the public hearings for budget proposals in early July. We did that and this Monday, County Auditor Danica Lara and I finished up with the figures for the 2024 budget. 

We are now working on the summary sheets to have the budget out hopefully before this newspaper hits the newsstands. The Budget process is a long, tedious road that takes in the needs of the various departments to do their jobs, the welfare of our county employees, and the taxpayer’s desire for an affordable, efficient, and effective government in order to be successful. 

This year we made a concerted effort to add to the department budgets where they needed funds to make things run more efficient and effective. 

Over the years technology has advanced and made our current software antiquated. So, the department heads did an in-depth search and we decided to make some software changes that will better aid our employees in better getting the job done for you, the people of Milam County. The software changes also eliminate the need for costly personnel expansion that would have most assuredly been a necessity had we stayed with these older software packages. 

In looking over the history of Milam County employees’ salaries, we noticed that many times those salaries were stagnate or given only a minimum bump, which is effectively a pay decrease for the employees. Last year saw Milam County employees (non-elected officials) get a small raise of around 2 percent while inflation rose by over 6% thereby leaving these employees with a net 4 percent pay decrease. As our first priority this year, we choose to match the estimated rate of inflation of 3 percent as a Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) and then allow the department heads to choose if a raise was warranted on top of that. A COLA adjustment insures that, at the very least, our employees will maintain the same buying power in 2024 that they have in 2023.

Making things cost-effective and efficient is extremely important and one of the main objectives as we moved through the budget process. Whether it be software upgrades, consolidating collateral duties of offices, unifying tech resources in one reporting system, or eliminating pet projects, we have worked hard to create a budget that should address all of our needs, eliminate the fluff, and streamline all of our functions thereby keeping costs down for the taxpayers and better serving the public as a whole.

In the next few weeks, we will be holding Public Hearings throughout Milam County to give folks the opportunity to see the budget, discuss it, ask questions, express concerns, and just begin to understand the process a little better. We will get those dates out as soon as possible on our website, in the papers, on the radio, and right here in the newspaper. 

In closing, I want to thank all the department heads for their hard work and help in this process, the commissioners, and especially our County Tax Assessor/Collector Sherry Mueck, County Clerk Jodi Morgan, and our County Auditor Danica Lara. This truly was and is a team effort, as it should always be, and as it will continue to be while I am County Judge.


The Cameron Herald

The Cameron Herald
P.O. Box 1230
Cameron, Texas 76520

Phone: 254-697-6671
Fax: 254-697-4902