Brewster County Commissioners held their regularly scheduled meeting on July 22, and addressed the county’s budget deficit.
County Judge Eleazar Cano announced that the county had a $320,000 deficit, adding, “When we take our projected revenue for the year versus our expenditures, revenue has dropped from almost $500,000 from where we started three years ago.”
Cano said there were three options to handle the shortfall, including raising the tax rate. He admitted, however, that it would be a difficult decision and the last resort.
“Thinking of what’s happened throughout the year to all the constituents pretty much across the country, in my mind, the last thing constituents want is for us to charge more for what we are doing,” said Cano.
He also mentioned reducing the county workforce to balance the budget, as well as not filling positions of county employees who are retiring. Using that money in the reserve funds could help make up the difference.
County auditor Patty Roach also announced the current budget was based on the tax rate provided earlier in the year based on preliminary assessed values. There was no final appraisal roll yet since it may change.
In other news, Emergency Management Coordinator Stephanie Elmore announced that Texas A&M Forest Service had a 10-man modular team that would be stationed in the county in the event of fires. She said there was a fire recently near Big Bend National Park that had burned several hundred acres, and national park firefighters worked to contain it.
Elmore then asked commissioners to renew the countywide burn ban for 45 more days due to extreme drought conditions, and they approved.
Finally, Elmore said purchasing a water tank to be installed in North Double Diamond would be discussed at the next meeting.
In other business, Road and Bridge Superintendent Frenchie Causey gave an update on Post Park, saying the children’s pool area was repaired, along with picnic tables, and the county would also be doing some painting.
Causey was displeased with the rampant littering at Post Park, as well as in other areas of the county, noting that county workers had picked up a washer and dryer and 30 tires off Old Marathon Highway in Alpine. He asked if Brewster County Sheriff’s deputies could monitor the littering and install surveillance cameras at Post Park. Sheriff Ronny Dodson agreed to look into the matter. Causey said some of the littered areas being used as de facto landfills were Moss Creek and the creek by the Sul Ross State University Turner Range Animal Science Center.
Said Causey, “People are leaving trash everywhere - beer bottles, beer cans, and trash on picnic tables.”
The next regularly scheduled commissioner’s court meeting is set for Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 9:30 a.m. via Facebook Live.