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Budget hearings begin for Taylor County, department requests up $5.9 million from last year

By Cassandra Webb, cwebb@ktxs.com
Published On: Jul 15 2013 07:21:17 PM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

Budget hearings began Monday for Taylor County. County department heads are asking for a $5.9 million increase to this year's budget.

The week-long budget workshop allows the commissioners to know exactly what county services want and need.

According to representatives of Taylor County, the cost of government is going up.

Where are they going to get the nearly $6 million the services are requesting?

"We're going to whittle away some here and some there," said County Commissioner Chuck Statler. "We're going to look at probably the end of the week where we really need to consider cuts."

"We're certainly sensitive to the taxpayers concerns," said Taylor County Judge Downing Bolls, Jr. "That their wish and desire is that we don't have a tax increase," he said.

Here are some of the most expensive requests:

1. Employee raises - many county employees get paid more than 30 percent below comparable counties. The goal is to get that to 15 percent.

2. Sheriff Ricky Bishop has requested new patrol cars and more deputies.

3. The volunteer fire department has requested over $200,000.

4. Services across the board are in need of building repairs and upkeep.

Judge Bolls said the balance of giving services what they need and want, while also keeping taxes from rising will be a challenge.

"It's just going to be very tight," Bolls said. "We knew it was going to be a little bit more expensive this year than what it has been in the past, but my experience over the last three years has been that the commissioners are going to give it a fair shake and at the end of the week, they'll do what they have to do," he said.

The budget workshops are open to the public and take place in the commissioner's courtroom.

The budget process will run through September and a public hearing will be scheduled before a new tax rate is set.