LAMPASAS — County commissioners adopted the fiscal year 2014 budget and tax rate during a special meeting Monday morning, allowing themselves only half the proposed pay raise that was much disputed during a public forum last week. The budget is 7.69 percent more than last year’s budget and includes a salary increase of 6 percent for all county employees. Commissioners had originally considered a 12 percent pay raise for themselves in an effort to more closely match commissioners’ salaries in neighboring communities.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the budget, with Precinct 1 Commissioner Robert Vincent voting no. His vote stemmed from a request by Lampasas that the county pay half the cost of an additional firefighter at the joint-use station that opened in April.

County Auditor Chris Munn presented the proposed tax rate of 64.8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, with 45.5 cents for general maintenance and operations, 7.0 cents for debt service, and 12.3 cents for the road and bridge fund.

In other business, Texas Department of Transportation engineer Jason Scantling announced the state’s Highway Bridge Program, which provides more than $60 million in financial assistance to county bridge structures that meet the program’s criteria for renovation or replacement.

Every public bridge across the state has to be inspected by engineers every two years. The bridges are scored based on their structural rating, Scantling said. Once all the scores are tabulated, they are entered into an database in Austin and evaluated by officials to determine needs.

Scantling outlined the state’s selection process for special funding, which centers around identifying bridges needing repair or replacement. Counties compete statewide for the available funding.

“The bridge coordinator of each district contacts local officials and they prioritize each structure that is eligible for funding and select necessary projects,” Scantling said.

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