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County facing big deficit, works on budget

Wilbarger County is facing a loss of more than $600,000 from this year to next year, due in large part to a drop in expected property tax revenue after the AEP powerplant in Oklaunion shut down.

“Somewhere, we’ve gotta knock about $615,000 out of this budget,” County Judge Greg Tyra told the Wilbarger County Commissioners during a budget workshop on Monday. “As you are probably aware, it’s not going to be a good year with evaluations down.”

The Commissioners Court is proposing a property tax increase of 4.56 percent over the current year. The commission is calling for a county property tax rate of $566194 per $100 in valuation for next year. The current rate is $0.541500.

The Commissioners Court sets the budget for each county office and department. The first one up for discussion Monday was the Airport. The last phase of the Texas Department of Transportation/FAA upgrade is expected to begin later this month. Commissioner Scott Inglish, who is the commissioner in charge of the airport, said that a construction meeting is planned on August 17.

“The good news is we’ve already contributed our part,” he said, of the county’s requirement to provide a matching fund.

Judge Tyra said that the Airport had three capital purchase requests for next year. A lawnmower at $3,500, a shredder at $17,500, and $45,000 of roadwork.

Judge Tyra suggested that they check with what money is still in the account this year, and buy it out of this year’s money as opposed to waiting till next year, when the budget will be tighter.

County Auditor Dian Anzaldua said she would review how much money was left in this year’s airport budget. “We may can make that work,” she said.

Inglish said the road work request was for the south entrance around to the house.

“It is beyond repair,” he said.

Judge Tyra said he was inclined to hold off on approving the repair until other funding options could be explored.

“I’m not sure I we are not better off trying to see if there are some grants,” he said.

Anzaldua said she felt the county had a good chance at getting an airport grant to cover at least part of the cost.

Inglish said the airport’s current shredder is “in real bad shape.”

Commissioner Phillip Graf asked what was wrong with it.

Inglish said it would not fold up and the right wing was about to fall off. He said he had to use his precinct shredder on it recently. He added it takes about a week to shred the airport grounds.

“Maybe we can get by this year if we send ours over,” Commissioner Graf said.

Tyra asked the other commissioners if they would be willing to also volunteer their shredders to assist in maintaining the grounds. The commission expressed a willingness to do that.

The commissioners then went through budget items, shaving $5,000 off of grounds and making other adjustments. The commissioners will continue holding budget workshops with the different county offices before voting on next year’s budget next month.

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