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County in good shape financially

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, November 9, 2013

Despite drops in oil and gas revenues and sales tax income, Wise County remains in good financial condition.

County Auditor Ann McCuiston gave a year-end financial report to county commissioners at their Oct. 28 meeting. She said the county’s outstanding tax collection rate, which nears 100 percent, offset the drop in revenue.

“The amount of taxes that were paid made up the difference,” she told the Messenger Friday. “That’s why we were able to get through the budget.”

At last month’s meeting she told commissioners that on paper, it appears that the county’s expenses exceeded revenues, but it’s because $300,000 was set aside for new capital projects and $500,000 was moved to debt service.

“We didn’t really spend it; it was just moved to another fund,” she said.

She also reported the county has 20 percent of the general fund budget in cash reserves.

None of the precincts had money left over this year except Precinct 4, with $800,000. In recent years, commissioners have moved any money over $500,000 to the road and bridge reserves where it can be used by any precinct with commissioners’ approval.

The group approved moving $300,000 of the Precinct 4 money to the reserve fund.

McCuiston said Precinct 4 Commissioner Glenn Hughes had a significant amount of money left because he managed to cut his budget in a couple of areas.

Employee costs were down $141,173 and gas and oil and lubricants were down $38,921. Despite cutting employee costs, he actually did $338,074 more in road work than he originally budgeted.

He did more work with less people, said McCuiston.

RADIO SYSTEM

Sheriff David Walker reported on the progress of the new radio system and said they have been testing frequencies with EF Johnson Technologies, the supplier.

He said the county has four P25 channels. They have applied for other licenses and are working on establishing talk groups on the channels they have.

“The technology has changed a little bit so we’re exploring our options to see how we can set the county up for the next 10 years or so,” he said.

A P25 compliant radio can communicate with older radios in analog mode and can communicate with other P25 radios in either digital or analog mode. This type of system also provides greater interoperability and compatibility with other agencies, improving overall communication.

Walker said Wise County radio dispatch will continue to simulcast in both analog and digital for a while. They have started testing the system and dispatchers will begin training on the new consoles next week.

Walker said the new system should go live the first week of December.

OTHER BUSINESS

Commissioners accepted the following donations: $500 from the Alvord Cemetery to Public Works; $500 from Friendship Cemetery to Public Works; $400 from Pella Cemetery to Public Works; $200 from Devon to the Sheriff’s Office fall festival and $1,000 from Wal-Mart to the fall festival.

Commissioners also:

  • tabled a final plat for Dorado and Gonzalez Estates, Lots 1-2, Block, 1 in Precinct 1. Commissioner Danny White said a drainage study is needed.
  • approved taking over maintenance of Boyd Cemetery. They also approved having a surveyor define the boundaries of Waggoner Cemetery in Precinct 2. The property was deeded to the county in 1885, but two surveys overlap, which has created some confusion as to the true boundary of the cemetery.

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