Comal County Commissioners on Thursday held a 3½-hour workshop session to review nearly $112 million in requests from various departments for the county’s 2020 budget.

The requests totaled $3.2 million over the $108.8 million budget commissioners approved for 2019. Also reviewed was a new pay scale for county employees, which hadn’t undergone major revisions since 2007.  

“I thought it went very well — (commissioners) had an opportunity to ask questions about the departmental requests that came in and learn more it and elected officials spoke on things that are important to their offices,” County Judge Sherman Krause said. “It also gave the public the opportunity to watch (online) and learn what their county government is up to.”

The 2019 budget totaled $15.4 million more than the $93.4 million approved in 2018. It included outlays to upgrade the countywide communications system, new elections equipment, funding for more than 70 additional employees and 3% cost of living adjustments for all county employees and salary adjustments for the four county commissioners.

Last year’s budget also included staffing for the new county jail and various expenditures associated with the renovations of the Landa and Courthouse Annex buildings for additional county offices and courtrooms.

The budget requests were formally submitted on June 10 and presented to commissioners on June 24. This year’s requests were smaller — mostly for new vehicles, additional support staffers, and planning for the newly-created 466th Judicial District Court and County Court at Law No. 3, which will both begin operations on or after Jan. 1, 2021.

Officials have been working since October 2018 on updating and revising the county’s pay scale formulas, which will grant raises of between 2% and 4% to most county employees in addition to any approved cost-of-living pay increases. 

Krause said those adjustments should total around $4.7 million; adding or reclassifying 34 county employees will cost nearly $2.2 million. 

“Those costs are not cheap, but we’re going to continue to make sure that our county employees, our greatest asset, will be taken care of,” Krause said. 

Krause said commissioners will spend the next few weeks reviewing the requests. After the Comal Appraisal District certifies tax appraisals for 2019, Krause will present a recommended budget to commissioners on Aug. 1.

“During the next few weeks we’ll be working with the various departments on the requests and talk about various ways some expenses could be delayed and more things that could be added,” Krause said.

Commissioners that day will also discuss and schedule public hearings on next year’s proposed tax rate. The 2018 combined tax rate is 35.7921 cents per $100 assessed property valuation. The effective tax rate is 33.7974 cents and the rollback tax rate is 37.5604 cents.

Formal notices listing the proposed budget, tax rate and public hearings on both will be published on Sunday, Aug. 4. Commissioners could adopt the budget on Aug. 29 and finalize the tax rate by Sept. 19.

Earlier during their regular session on Thursday, commissioners approved:

• A two-year contract with CorrHealth, LLC to provide pharmacy and medical services at the county jail. The base agreement totals nearly $2.7 million, with $300,000 annually for on-site medical services, effective after the county’s contract with University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston expires July 31.

• Agreements with various agencies and companies for regular and optional health, pharmacy and insurance employee benefits for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

• An amended surety agreement for construction of roads and other improvements within the 4S Ranch subdivision and proposed Morningside Trails subdivision.

• A new street name titled Old Wehe (pronounced Way) Ranch Road for a private driveway one mile north of the intersection of State Highway 46 West and Anhalt Road.

• Final plat approval for the Balderas Property and acceptance of 1/8-acre of public right-of-way near Farm-to-Market Road 32. 

• The tax assessor-collector’s monthly collection report for June 2019.

• Refunding an ad valorem tax overpayment totaling more than $2,500.

• Bexar Metro 9-1-1 Network’s 2020 fiscal year budget.

• A resolution of intent to establish a county PACE Program.

To access videos and agenda from Thursday’s meetings, visit www.co.comal.tx.us/agenda.htm.

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