Commissioners Court held a special called budget workshop meeting this morning to discuss the upcoming Atascosa County 2020-2021 budget. Judge Bob Hurley stated this was the last workshop needed to move forward with the budget that involved speaking with each Justice of the Peace and gathering budget suggestions from the Commissioners.
“We thought it was best to get together one last time today. This is actually our last meeting with you to discuss things,” said Judge Hurley to the Commissioners.
Before the workshop began, Judge Hurley explained to Commissioners the struggles he and County Auditor Tracy Barrera had with the budget since June 1.
“We want to explain what we’ve been doing differently than in the past. Instead of being just me and the auditor preparing the paperwork for review, we’ve been holding workshops with Commissioners,” said Judge Hurley.
The county is facing a roughly $3-4 million short following the sales tax revenue this year. On top of this, there is $2 million in grants that are not renewing in the coming year. In total, the county is looking is looking at a $5-6 million budget cut for 2020-2021.
“We’re having to forgo employee raises, our raises and that saves us about $400,000 a year. That’s what we start with, and we’ve been working our way through every budget matter, every area,” explained Judge Hurley, who said they also cut Capital Expenditures down to about $800,000.
Each Commissioner has been present in all budget workshop meetings, including two of whom are on the budget committee. Judge Hurley explained the sheet he provided to each Commissioner explains the decision he and Barrera made to freeze hiring between now and the end of the next year.
“Now this doesn’t mean we’re not going to let anybody be hired. It just means that we want each and every one to be considered on the same merit,” said Hurley. “The purpose of this is we don’t want to arbitrarily just issue cuts and people have to be let go.”
Instead, the county is trying to find savings out of either voluntary reductions in departments or by having each department head come in and explain why they need to have this in their budget.
“The goal is to find 12 openings that we can save that money for the coming budget and the rest of this year.”
Hurley further explained that they have five to six commitments including the county clerk who has a vacancy and will continue to maintain that vacancy. A cut of 10-12 people would decrease the budget by about $500,000-$550,000 depending on what the job is and how much the pay is.