The Rockwall County Commissioner’s Court met in special session last Thursday to discuss the first draft of the county budget and to make any necessary changes.

The first public hearing was held regarding the county’s proposed tax rate. The county is proposing a property tax rate of $0.3284 per $100 of property value for fiscal year 2019-20, the same rate as the current fiscal year. Since the proposed rate is higher than the effective rate, which is the rate that would bring in the same amount in revenues as the current fiscal year, two public hearings are required by law to allow the public to speak on the matter.

Two residents spoke during the hearing. A resident of Fireside Drive wanted to complement the work done by the Commissioners court for “providing a budget that not just meets current needs but projects into the future.” Another resident from Lake Meadows Circle applauded the Commissioners for keeping a $5,000 fund for the Rockwall Open Space Alliance.

A second public hearing is required and will be held Sept. 10.

Several additions and changes to the first draft of the budget were announced at the meeting. Among them are $5,000 for open space projects, $52,100 for maintenance agreements, and salary corrections for a handful of court deputies in the amounts of $1,556, $2,526 and $1,556.

More adjustments included $220,544 for personnel costs across several departments and $260,427 for County Court at Law No. 2. These adjustments reflect a January start date instead of a July start.

$1,653 was allocated for uniforms, a taser and vest for a bailiff. A further $4,301 were added to investigator salaries, and funding for the Rockwall County Historical Commission was increased by  $18,650 by moving it from the Historical Foundation.

Also approved was a transfer of $2 million from the general fund for expansion of the County Jail, and a transfer of $500,000 from surplus funds in the current fiscal year to the insurance fund. The $2 million is money the city is transferring before the issuance of bonds for the project.

With all of these adjustments, the budget would have a surplus of $98,000.

The commissioners passed the fund transfer unanimously. The second draft of the budget was filed Tuesday, and can be viewed online at https://bit.ly/2lVbRnD.

Commissioner Cliff Sevier took issue with the fact that the county often uses salaries from unfilled positions to cover overtime costs, saying that better accounting for overtime pay would make a more transparent budget.

The next meeting to discuss the second draft of the county budget is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept. 10 on the third floor of the courthouse at 101 East Rusk Street in Rockwall.

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