The citizens attending a meeting at Gem of the Hills were very pleased to hear our county judge, Bill Guthrie, speak on the financial state of Blanco County. The following is a summary of his talk:
“A few years ago our county budget was in poor shape financially, with a high debt and little to no reserves. As a team, your elected officials working together have rectified this situation: as our auditor said at this year’s presentation to commissioners’ court “things were a disaster and now there are many counties that would like to be in the financial position that you are in”
Our current budget is $6,418,516.18, which includes $1,000,000 for building projects and our reserve is approximately six months or $3,000,000. This puts us in a very secure financial position and allowed us to finance our jail and building project with ease, with a favorable rate and without a tax increase. The county tax rate has decreased from .4910 in 2003 (the year I took office) to .3454 in 2008, although property valuations have increased.
Replacing the Sheriff operations’ fleet of sedans with pickups, which require less maintenance and are more serviceable when responding to emergencies such as floods, fires, and other calls in rural areas.
Updated Road and Bridge Equipment which includes maintainer/grader in pct. 2 & 3, dumptrucks in 2 & 3 and for county- wide use; loader pct. 2; paving equipment for county-wide use (paving projects can now be completed using our personnel rather than being farmed out); pickups replaced, trailers for hauling equipment; skid steer for recycling and county-wide use.
Updated computers and filing systems with NetData in County Clerk and District Clerk offices, and updated computer and records systems for both JP Offices with Hill Country Software & Incode.
Updated radio system for law enforcement, fire and EMS thru Homeland Security Grants and County funds.
Purchased property adjacent to the courthouse and law enforcement center that will allow us to build a new jail and annex; total amount $1,000,000.
All of the above projects are paid in full.
These things were all done in preparation for building a new annex and jail. We have known for some years that a new jail had to be built but we were planning and putting county affairs in order so this could be accomplished without a tax increase and when it would be most advantageous to the taxpayer.
Our current jail is the oldest operating jail in the State, being built in 1894, and it currently operates with numerous variances. This year the jail failed inspection partly due to over-crowding; we have been boarding prisoners at other facilities for some time and keeping our occupancy levels in check. The State Jail Commission dictates most of the construction of a new jail and we will comply. It is proposed that our facility will house 48 prisoners. This will give us room for growth for a number of years in the future. Now is a good time to build. We are in the financial position to accomplish these projects without a tax increase and building costs are substantially down.
The county is growing and with growth comes change. Our present population is 9650 to 9700, and is expected to be 9800 to 9900 with the 2010 census.
We are moving forward into the future with a very conservative approach and being good stewards of your tax dollars. We never forget our fiduciary responsibility and look forward to serving you.
This community meeting was sponsored by the Blanco County Republican Club. Our next scheduled meeting will be held August 18, at 7:00pm in the PEC Auditorium in Johnson City. Our featured speaker will be our Sheriff, Bill Elsbury.