At a recent meeting, one Travis County commissioner was especially determined to oppose spending on new projects.
Three percent raises at a cost of $5.7 million for rank-and-file county employees? No, said Gerald Daugherty.
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Commissioner Gerald Daugherty took the unusual step this year of drafting his own suggested budget, listing $5.6 million worth of projects he would add using only the new revenue from construction.
What Daugherty would fund:
• $370,000 for a “master plan” to increase efficiency and reduce spending (not in county’s proposed budget).
• $3.5 million for rising health benefit costs (same as county budget).
• $1.1 million for social service contracts with outside agencies (same as county budget).
• $108,000 for an attorney in the Mental Health Public Defender’s office (same as county budget).
• $100,000 to help fund the nonprofit Council on At-Risk Youth (county budget gives $200,000).
• $75,000 increase in spending on attorney’s fees for indigent people accused of crimes (county budget gives $300,000).
• $67,000 for support staff in the Precinct 4 Constable’s office (same as county budget).
• $50,000 to develop a program aimed at collecting late child support payments (county budget gives $816,000 for hiring new staff to develop a program and handle other duties).
• $50,000 for a mental health treatment program (not in county budget).
• $50,000 for the nonprofit Seedling Foundation (same as county budget).
• $40,000 for the nonprofit Dispute Resolution Center (same as county budget).
• $40,000 for an office assistant in the Juvenile Public Defender’s Office (same as county budget).
• $2,200 to reimburse driving for voter registration (same as county budget).
Some of the items Daugherty opposes in the county’s proposed budget:
• $5.7 million to fund 3 percent across-the-board raises for rank-and-file employees.
• $1.8 million for the district attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, after state funding was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry.
• $1.1 million to hire 10 new jail sergeants.
• $30,000 for bus passes to encourage county staffers to drive less.
Up in the air:
The proposed county budget also includes some new costs that Daugherty doesn’t oppose them, but under his own budget scenario, funding them would require him to cut something else:
• $1.8 million to help fund a regional emergency communication center and operate a regional radio system with first-responder agencies.
• $283,000 to help maintain STAR Flight, the county’s fleet of ambulance helicopters.
• $280,000 to hire four maintenance staffers and a park ranger for Onion Creek parkland.
• $150,000 for a dead tree removal project.
Dipping into reserves
Daugherty’s plan recommends drawing on emergency reserves for two items:
• $1.5 million for the Road and Bridge Fund, a diminishing pot of money used for upkeep.
• $500,000 for additional contracting with outside social service providers.