Commissioners to meet about 2021 budget

Staff Writer
Herald Democrat
Grayson County commissioners, shown here in the 2019 file photo, will take up the county's 2021 budget when they meet Wednesday

Grayson County's Commissioners Court will meet more than once this week. Those charged with approving the county's budget will meet for their regularly scheduled meeting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday and then will meet again at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday to discuss the budget for fiscal year 2021.

The county normally finalizes its budget in late September and the new budget year starts on October 1. This year, more so than in years past, commissioners have made significant changes to the current budget.

Here are five things to know about the county’s current budget.

1. Taxes were cut

The 2020 budget was built on a tax rate of .416429 per $100 valuation. That means a homeowner whose home is worth $100,000 saw a tax decrease of about $23.94.

Fiscal year 2020 was the fifth year that the county leaders cut the tax rate for taxpayers.

Who knows if that trend will continue into the new fiscal year given the restraints placed on county finances during the pandemic, but at the end of fiscal year 2019, the commissioners were proud of the continued decline.

2. County employees recently got a pay raise

The tax rate supported a budget that included giving county employees a 3.5 percent pay increase and some big ticket items. The county had set aside $400,000 for improvements at the Loy Lake Spillway though there was hope that such improvements won’t be that expensive.

The budget also included $400,000 to connect North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field to radar services. The project was later scraped when the airport found out that the Federal Aviation Administration would not be moving forward with infrastructure upgrads for the airport.

The budget included one new part-time employee for County Commissioner Precinct 4 and the upgrading of one part-time employee to full-time for the County Extension Office.

Last fall, Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said as the county continues to grow, local school districts do as well. That means the County Extension Office is working with more and more students.

3. The county set $40,000 aside for the 2020 census

The county set thousands aside for the census and planned to partner with the city of Sherman which had promised $25,000 and the city of Denison which had promised $15,000 for work toward getting all of Grayson County counted.

4. Jail expansion considerations were a forethought

Also in the budget was $50,000 to look at possible expansion for the Grayson County Jail. The jail isn’t at the point that it needs such expansion at this time, but it is best to stay ahead of the trend, Magers said.

The budget also included $25,000 for extra indigent defense costs for some upcoming murder trials and $4,000 for the 2020 elections.

Though the county has most recently tied the amount of increase given to fire departments and ambulance services that provide care for people in the unincorporated areas of the county, to the amount of increase given to county employees, Magers said. But, that was not the case this year.

5. Though it was approved, cuts were made

Earlier this summer, county leaders cut more than $1 million out of the budget for 2020 based on a decrease in revenue from things like taxes and fees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Magers said the cuts came mostly from capital expenses that didn’t have to be made this year.

Once commissioners hammer out the finer details of the budget with other elected officials and department heads, the matters will be placed on the agenda for the full commissioners court to discuss in a number of public meetings before the the court takes an official vote on later on in the fall.

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