County approves budget

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The Madison County Commissioners Court on Monday approved a more than $10 million budg-et with the condition that all pay raises by department equal no more than 4 percent.

County Auditor Toni Joyner said that general fund expenditures will be $7.7 million, and Road & Bridge Department expenditures will be $2.4 million. Unrestricted revenues, which don’t in-clude things like grant funds, income from fines or income for special uses, is projected to be $9.5 million.

The vote wasn’t unanimous, however, as County Judge C.E. McDaniel voted against it. Commis-sioners Thomas Collard, Sam Cole, Ricky Driskell and Carl Cannon approved the budget.

Cannon made the motion to approve the budget, saying that the motion also was to ensure that all departmental raises will be held to the 4 percent limit.

“I don’t think we need to single out any department and give raises that other departments are not getting,” Cannon said.

Departments will now get a total of 4 percent, but department heads can decide how that money is applied.

“The DA’s office was asking for bigger salary increases than the rest of the departments,” Can-non said after the meeting. “This is about fairness.”

In previous budget hearings, District Attorney Brian Risinger sought to split up the pay allocated to an open position between two secretaries, effectively raising the pay more than 4 percent.

Cannon also cited the fact that the secretaries were given comp time, without the commis-sion’s knowledge, as reasons to keep all raises at 4 percent.

Additionally, the court approved what amounted to a tax hike.

While the current tax rate of 55 cents per $100 valuation will remain unchanged, property val-uations in the county have risen, which means that it will raise more money — $37,317 — and new property added to the tax rolls will raise $80,543.

On a home worth $100,000, the increase to the tax bill would be about $11.20.

McDaniel said that there were many reasons to vote against the budget, but his biggest com-plaint was it was based on a tax increase, even one that came about because of property valu-ations.

In other business, the county:

•approved $2,000 in hotel/motel funds for the Madisonville Fire Department for advertising the Trail of Terror Halloween event;

•approved $2,000 in hotel/motel funds for the Madisonville County Chamber of Commerce for advertising the annual Christmas light parade and Gingerbread Market event;

•approved $1,000 in hotel/motel funds for the American Legion for advertising connected with the American Legion District Convention, set for April 2019;

•denied a request for $1,000 in hotel/motel funds to advertise the Madisonville High School basketball tournament;

•approved a grant application for $2 million in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds;

•approved a vendor agreement with Brazos Valley Area Agency on Aging for the coming fiscal year; and

•granted permission for AT&T to place cable near the county courthouse.

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