County eyes budget without tax increase


By LPR Staff

As budget negotiations wind down, the Caldwell County Commissioners are coming closer to approving a pared-down budget that fills the county’s basic needs and only imposes a minimal additional tax burden on the citizens.

The budget as proposed by County Judge H.T. Wright includes additional personnel in the Caldwell C

ounty District Attorney’s Office and the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department, but does not offer a pay increase for county employees.

However, budget talks will continue pending public hearings on the budget and tax rate on Monday, Aug. 24, and Monday, Aug. 31. During that time, the Court has asked County Auditor Sonny Rougeou to continue maneuvering the budget in an attempt to utilize savings in some areas to offset increases in others.

One such offset could come from housing prisoners for the U.S. Marshal Service. According to Wright and Sheriff Daniel Law, after the remodeling of the Caldwell County Jail, beds are now available to house prisoners from other districts. Law said his office has entered into a renegotiation with the Marshal Service and suggested the daily rate for housing prisoners could increase from its current rate, around $32.50 per head per day, to nearly $45.

That increase could mean a significant increase in revenue flow for the county.

In other business during the Commissioners’ Court’s regular meeting on Monday, the Court considered a proposal that will change insurance coverage for Caldwell County employees.

The change, approved by the Commissioners unanimously, will move county employees from their current Humana insurance coverage to coverage through Aetna. The coverage, according to insurance consultant Bob Treacy, will not amount to a significant change in coverage or cost to employees, but will lower deductibles from $2,000 to $1,000, and amount in a significant savings to Caldwell County.

Additionally, the program suggests the availability of coverage options that will allow lesser coverage at a lower cost to employees.

Caldwell County Treasurer Lori Rangel-Pompa said as the insurance coverage is approved and enacted, comprehensive training meetings will be held with employees to make sure employees understand their options and are able to complete all the necessary paperwork so as to not create a gap in coverage.

In brief news:
The Court heard a report on environmental control in Caldwell County that revealed trash dumping is still a problem. They discussed several options to improve environmental control and code enforcement.

They opted to leave the current outdoor burning ban in place.

The County paid bills in the amount of $112,294.88, which includes $7,372 in indigent legal fees and $3,305 for indigent health care.

The Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court meets on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse.


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