The Hempstead County Quorum Court met Tuesday December 11th. The JP’s waded right into the proposed budget for 2019. Budget Committee Chairman Ed Darling went through the budget noting they expect the opening budget to be $4.37 million. The county judge’s budget was flat. The county clerk’s budget was up $7,000. The treasurer’s budget was up $3,000. The Collector’s budget was the same. The Sheriff’s budget was down about $139,000 to $1.175 million. It was noted there was nothing in the Sheriff’s budget for cars. JP Lynn Montgomery advised that the county should budget for a couple of vehicles because if they don’t the county will find themselves with a bunch of vehicles wearing out at once. Darling said they would try to revisit vehicles later in the year. Cherry Stewart asked the Sheriff about the vehicles he has and he noted they will probably declare some surplus and auction them. A discussion of vehicles ensued including discussion on why the sheriff buys on the state contract as opposed to buying locally.
The county general budget was proposed at $4.078 million down $1.3 from the previous year. The proposed road budget was $3.159 million which was about the same as the previous year. Solid waste and the 9-1-1 budgets were unchanged. The jail budget is projected at $2.127 million with available funds at $1.94 million. The JP’S agreed by acclimation to transfer $22,500 to balance that budget. Darling explained how they reduced the budget. He also said they’d spoken to the Chancellor at the college on how to cut their recividism which is at 77%. JP Lynn Montgomery pointed out that the victim/witness fund and public defender’s fund were not balanced if the proposed budget. Victim/Witness was off about$2,700 and the public defender budget was off $549.
The JP’S discussed possibly changing the salaries of the solid waste/road department supervisor and the courthouse maintenance person but it was decided to look at those positions in January.
The JP’s voted to approve the budget and then recessed the budget meeting and began the general meeting.
Under old business Ed Darling brought up Christmas bonuses. Darling explained how they will fund them. The JP’S voted to fund bonuses for full-time employees and officials at $500 and for part-time employees at $250. Quorum Court members would be excluded. The JP’S discussed the road department and waste department clothing allowance which was $1,000 per employee. No action was taken on the clothing allowance but the employee Christmas bonuses were approved.
The JP’s approved a transfet ordinance that for money from the voluntary tax fund to the Sheriff’s budget. This involved $500 and it was approved. The sheriff had accidentally overlooked a deputy when he passed out monies collected from the voluntary tax.
The JPs approved the budget ordinance which officially sets the budget. Ordinances approved the county general budget, the special budgets, the road budget, and the county jail budget.
County Judge Haskell Morse invited everyone to the courthouse community coffee on Wednesday. He noted all the decorations in the courthouse were paid for by the county officials and deputies. He also invited everyone to the Bicentennial activities this weekend.
JP Jessie Henry asked if the Judge had plans on fixing anymore roads before he leaves Office. The Jud get says it depends on the weather.
Sheriff James Singleton told the JP’S his staff will be taking 169 youngsters to Wal-Mart Saturday to let those kids spend at least $75 each. The Sheriff thanked everyone who donated to “Operation Christmas”.
Departing JP’s Mikki Curtis, Monica Johnson, and Lynn Montgomery were honored. Montgomery is wrapping up 54 years on the Quorum Court. He received a standing ovation and was surprised with a cake. The meeting then adjourned