This, he said, is actual dollars in the bank.
On paper, the county has a balance of about $1.8 million, but that is a calculation which takes into account factors such as building depreciation.
“There are a lot of other things in there that are not real dollars,” Silva said.
The $600K — that is real.
“That is a whole month’s reserve, which again we haven’t been there in a while.
“We need three months reserves though,” said Silva, who is in his second term as judge.
Silva said that it would be easy to point to Eagle Ford as the source of these funds, but that wouldn’t be accurate.
“The fund balance has been building up a little every year,” Silva said. “We put back a little every year since I took office.”
Silva said commissioners have adopted lean budgets, forgoing unnecessary expenses, and even voted down employee raises, all to keep expenses minimal.
This past year, the county adopted a nickel tax rate increase to keep the county running. This decision came after forgoing all raises for elected officials and cutting funding to positions and departments.
While it won’t help the general fund, Silva was also pleased to announce that they have received their first check from Pioneer Natural Resources.
That agreement, like others in the works with Eagle Ford drilling companies, calls for a $9,500 fee for wells either drilled or permitted — depending upon the agreement. This fee is only charged to Eagle Ford Shale drillers and not the traditional, smaller operations.
This money does not go into the county’s reserve fund. Instead, it is placed into the Road and Bridge Fund, which is used to pave and maintain the county’s extensive road system.
The push for this fee came from Commissioner Dennis DeWitt, who, after the court’s approval, worked with the oil companies to get agreements reached and contracts signed.
Other counties too are adopting fees to help cover the expense of roads crushed under the weight of oil field drilling and liquid hauling trucks.
Live Oak County does not have a road use agreement in place but does collect fees for certain things.
Officials in McMullen County, which has no paved county roads, ask that the oil companies supply the material to fix damaged roads.
Karnes County commissioners declined to adopt a fee.
Karnes Judge Barbara Shaw expressed that it was important for the county to start collecting some kind of money for road repairs before the repairs become too numerous.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.