Audio- Somervell County Commissioners Court Budget Workshop 6/27/2016Somervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


Audio- Somervell County Commissioners Court Budget Workshop 6/27/2016

28 June 2016 at 2:11:06 PM

audio from Somervell County website. 

First part is a discussion of individual departments. Please listen for exact wording, rough transcript.

Brian Watts - will be tapping into general reserves probably end of this month. Projections. Starting in June and going, using (disclaimer) based upon estimates only, last years spending. If we replicate last year, this is where our general balance will go. Will be right about 8 million dollars in the bank. Will update this document each month as we move forward. Disclaimers about forecasting. Making assumptions, but believes it is pretty close. 

Prolonged situation by Luminant has been anticipated. We've been anticipating this for years, it was not a surprise, we were in a position that we prepared ourselves for this, I'm not looking at disconnect notices coming in from telephone companies. 

Judge-if we were to keep the golf course... cap amount to put in. If we keep the expo, cap it at 250,000 also. That might get into the middle of next year. Watts. Remember, last year we fully funded both of those. That did 2 things, allowed us not have to budget as much this year, actually created a reserve for the expo. If we do that again, if those enterprise funds don't have enough cash and exhaust all 250,000 budgeted, they will start using their own reserves. Judge-open for all of us. Judge Library will pick up the one employee that retired. 

John Curtis- 10th circuit court of appeals, should they agree with Judge Neill's ruling, with delay in interest and penalties, any guestimate on that that could be? Watts Luminant would owe balance of 4 mliion in taxes plus penalties and interest. Actually working to our benefit for them doing this. Had they paid it I would only would be able to invest it at 1 percent, but they're investing at 12 percent, so we owe a debt of gratitude. 

Wish List, projections, If anyone feels so included, local govt code allows govt officials to forego salaries. 'What about auditors?" Wats. I'm appointed. 

John Curtis. Counting widgets without ad valorum tax makes it difficult.

Watts: Take services away? Keep Somervell County as it has been? 

Watts: We've been awarded 1.2 from taxes. If you remember from that trial, their estimate from their own expert didn't even value the land, he admitted his was wrong, even what they submitted was wrong, we're going to be vindicated, awarded the 2.2, that is going to, the plaintiff has not won one motion, only thing he has won is an application to be heard. They will run out of legal options before we run out of money. .. Dec 2017? I don't know that I would take it out that far, but once we get into 2017, some question about what they might do about 2016 valuation as well, at this market rate, anticipate this rate on a tax free note shy of 3 percent and we're earning 12 with their delays.

We're going to have to wake up when we don't have the money, Watts- we're going to have to wake up when we do get the money.

No guarantee we're going to get anything on January 2017, very little maybe, all we're looking is our normal county revenue plus other taxpayers. Watts- I'm looking at the day we get it. We have to not take the position that this money is gone, 90 percent probability that we're going to get it. Texas Supreme Court hasn't heard a valuation case in over 15 years, so major miracle for them to hear it. 

Judge -give us your opinion on expo, golf course, road barn, fire/ems and sheriff's department, then dire circumstances come, then I know what your gut is. Would still have to come out in open court, but if you think about it long term what means the most to who. Why road barn? 19 employees, large part of budget, and certain areas that can be looked at really hard. Hulsey. Road barn part of county services Judge-expo that's a different story there. Watts. what's important is we make a permanent decision what really is a temporary problem and this litigation is temporary, if this will be an annual thing, we'll get used to pay about 18 months out and can start factoing in penalties and interest as a line item. Longest time period is where we are right now. If we react too strongly, it will affect effective tax. Once things stabilize I can't get us back to where we ought to be, becuase we could be affecting future courts. Senator Bettendorf anticipating what could happen at the Legislature. Stay calm, this is fine. Curtis. we're one county, one city, time that we truly challenge the city to be more active in some of the enterprise and services that we provide, we should pursue that heavily, which would better position us going forward. Watts. County overly generous with the city, such as sales taxes. County could have gotten a sales tax for the county, with limited for the city. Same with HOT tax, allowed the city to go first, then all we could tax was the county facilities, historically the county has made long term decisions that have affected the city. Judge-we have been over there a few times, haven't won yet. Curtis. Prospects could be temporary, short term, to relieve some of our concerns by reducing our budget momentarily if they still reap the benefit of the taxes generated. Watts. When we talk about economic development, this entire docuemnt is an econ dev document, every dollar spent for payroll, everything we do as a county has an econ dev piece, go out of way to purchase services local, also cutting our own throat locally in a sense. Very delicate balance. Curtis. If we come back and say, we're going to close the expo, close the golf course, they generate a lot of sales tax for the city, so I'm just saying there may be an opportunity that they participate in operating those enterprises for a short period of time, we work together, synergy. Judge, if you want to go forth and pull that chain? We've got your back. 

Watts. I see no drastic budgetary considerations at the school district. The hospial I think you'd have to carve out for a number of things, none of which are applicable here, we're totally different. 

July 11th detailed list of 570 (capital asset) requests for coming year. 1st budget hearing in August, finalized in September, pay bills October 1. 


Have to make a comment here. Really great to hear this budget meeting. As Watts said, they knew for years this was coming from Luminant and planned for it. Even now, Watts has a terrific attitude about the interest rate of what the county could get with money versus what, with late payment, penalties and interest, Luminant is getting, 12%. I also liked what John Curtis said about getting the city to join in. I agree that the city has really reaped financial and tax benefits that the county could also have claimed, to begin with. Will be interested to see how this is approached.

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Side article regarding budget considerations, this one re: school districts and oil/gas patches.

Four months into the job, she had to inform the board of trustees that local property values were expected to drop by more than half from the previous year because of a major slowdown in oil and gas drilling, and that the $6 million savings account the 300-student district had built up during the recent boom would quickly evaporate. She delivered a similar message this year with property values expected to plummet another 42 percent amid the lingering low oil prices that have brought drilling in the state — and across the U.S. — to a near halt.

The district is now operating on a deficit budget and moving to restructure its bond because it can’t afford payments. 

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