GATESVILLE — Tasked with closing a $1.3 million budget gap to avoid either a tax increase or a shortfall in the reserve fund, Coryell County commissioners approved more spending than they cut during a budget workshop here Monday.
“We didn’t help ourselves much,” Commissioner Jack Wall said.
The commissioners court will begin voting on specific budget items during their regular session next week, but let their views be known during Monday’s workshop session.
Commissioners informally agreed to add $81,000 to the 2014 budget to create a county human resources department. The sum includes a $48,000 salary for an HR manager, plus benefits and office space, said County Auditor Ben Roberts.
Support for adding prosecutor
Commissioners also gave tacit support to adding a prosecutor to the 52nd District Attorney’s office at a cost of about $64,000 and providing about $33,000 for a visiting judge and additional court reporter to help move more cases through the district court.
The commissioners court was split over whether to approve about $130,000 to add two patrol deputies to the county sheriff’s department or allocate $50,000 to the sheriff to provide security for the county courthouse.
Saying he would abide by the wishes of the court, Sheriff Johnny Burks argued in favor of the patrol deputies over the courthouse security funding.
Commissioner Daren Moore spoke for courthouse security over the deputies, but found himself alone on the court.
“I am not looking at this from a financial point of view,” Moore said.
“I am looking to protect the employees and the public.”
Commissioner Justin Latham did not express support for the courthouse security spending and said he would like to see the request for the new deputies taken out of the spending plan.
Wall voiced support for hiring the patrol deputies, and said he was not in favor of installing metal detectors in the courthouse.
“I will go with (hiring) one deputy instead of two,” Commissioner Don Jones said. Burks said two ptrol deputies were needed for staff balance, as he plans to add one deputy to each of the two evening shifts.
Jones then agreed to hiring two.
The county now has 12 patrol deputies working four 12-hour shifts with three deputies per shift, Burks said.
The two added positions would put four deputies on each of the night shifts.