NUECES COUNTY – Time is running out for Nueces County commissioners to come up with a budget.
With a shortfall in the millions of dollars, commissioners agree there are necessary cuts to be made. However, some of the proposed solutions have sparked concerns among county employees.
Nueces County has a budget of $100 million, and when revenue is compared to expenses, the county is currently $4 million short.
County commissioners have suggested a handful of ways to adjust operations to come up with the deficit.
Some of the suggested resolutions include reducing how much the county contributes to employees’ retirement funds and a county-wide hiring freeze which would affect most departments. The District Attorney, Sheriff’s Office, and constables would be exempt from the freeze.
Currently, each commissioner is given a $50,000 allowance for special projects in their precinct. Commissioners Carolyn Vaughn and Brent Chesney said they are willing to give up that money to help Nueces Co.
“I like giving up the precinct money that we’re all giving up because I think it shows that we’re all willing to do that. It’s going to hurt us in our precincts, but we all have to give,” Chesney said.
However, Tuesday’s budget workshop did raise concerns.
Members of the Nueces County Sheriff’s Officers Association spoke against a proposal that would reduce the county’s contribution to employees’ retirement funds.
“You can’t just go taking people’s money that they’ve worked hard for so many years for this county and just snatch it away like nothing. It’s not right,” Arnoldo Carpentier said.
Commissioner Carolyn Vaughn said she strongly opposes the idea of retirement reductions and the potential impact it would have on county law enforcement.
“The ones at my concern are the constables and the Sheriff’s deputies. They don’t have those huge salaries and they rely on that when they retire,” Vaughn said.
A possible 1.2 cent property tax raise is also on the table. All of the mentioned proposals are still preliminary.
Another budget workshop will be held Monday, August 13th. Commissioners could vote on a final budget plan next week.
A budget must be finalized by early September.