Athens Review, Athens, Texas

June 13, 2013

Budget process begins for county

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — It takes a lot of money to run Henderson County, and deciding exactly where the dollars will go is the job of the county judge and Commissioners Court.

County Judge Richard Sanders said Wednesday that he’s already begun the 2014 budget process that will last well into September.

“I’ve been working on it for the last two or three weeks,” Sanders said. “We’ve sent out notices to all of the department heads to send in their proposed budgets. We’ve already started receiving some. That will help me in getting my proposed budget ready to go.”

The county 2013 budget included $24,693,260 in expenditures, down from $25,571,657.45 the previous year. The budget sessions last summer were tough for Sanders and Commissioners Court because the county had fewer dollars to work with than in the previous year. Many cuts were made throughout the departments including eliminating some positions.

The Texas Local Government Code states that the proposed budget must be completed during the seventh or the tenth month of the fiscal year, as determined by the Commissioners Court. Sanders must file his proposed budget by July 31. After that, the Commissioners Court gets a chance to review it and propose amendments. The final votes on the budget and tax rate usually come in September, in time for the tax statements to go out in early October.

“I think the available funds will be comparable to last year’s, from what I understand,” Sanders said. “I haven’t received the property values from the appraisal district yet.”

Each spring, property owners whose appraised value increases by $1,000 or more are sent a letter from the district. Those who disagree with the district’s findings can take their dispute to the Appraisal Review Board. Once the disputes are settled, the Appraisal District certifies the numbers that Commissioners will use in determining the tax rate.

A bit of information that will have a large effect on the county’s expenses is whether there is a large increase in employee health insurance rates.

“We always have an issue with our insurance and what the price of that will be,” Sanders said. “That’ll be a big factor in how we look this year. You hear on the news about the increases that are coming down the pike. I just hope it won’t affect the county as much.”