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Sheriff’s office pitches $1.45M increase
by Joe Baker
Sep 05, 2013 | 75 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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From left, Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva, Commissioners Pete Jauer, James Rosales and County Judge Barbara Shaw look over a budget proposal during a meeting of Commissioners Court last week.
Joe Baker photo From left, Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva, Commissioners Pete Jauer, James Rosales and County Judge Barbara Shaw look over a budget proposal during a meeting of Commissioners Court last week.
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KARNES CITY – County officials approved for filing a preliminary budget that the county auditor described as a plan to spend far more than the amount of its projected revenue for the coming year.

County Auditor Lajuana Kasprzyk presented the figures to county officials during their Aug. 30 meeting and explained that what she was presenting did not include sheriff’s office expenditures.

“You will notice the first page is just a brief summary without the sheriff’s department and the proposed expenses over expected revenues,” Kasprzyk said. “Not including the sheriff’s department, is $2.3 million over our expected revenues.”

“That doesn’t include the sheriff’s department,” Kasprzyk said. “If you remember the presentation the sheriff made when he requested 13 additional positions. Just to fund the equipping of those positions was $633,000 – not any other departmental expenses. We are going to be well over our expected revenues.”

Considering that, Commissioner Pete Jauer said he estimated spending under the proposed budget would be about $4 million more than expected revenues.

“At least,” Kasprzyk responded.

County Judge Barbara Shaw asked Kasprzyk to estimate sheriff’s office expenses based on preliminary presentations. Kasprzyk responded saying $2 million dollars would be a “wild guess” but more information is needed for a more accurate estimate.

Shaw asked about salaries for the county auditor’s office. Kasprzyk said she doesn’t have specific information yet, but she included five-percent pay increases as has been proposed for other county positions.

“On capital outlay, the $3.5 million pushed us over a lot, too, for the jail?” Commissioner James Rosales asked. “A lot of things pushed us over, but that is one of the major ones.”

“When you look at a quarter of a million for acquisition of properties, you look at a million for road and bridge, you look at $1.5 million for the courthouse,” Kasprzyk said.

“There is a lot of capital outlay,” Rosales said. “$8 million?”

The court adjourned until 3 p.m. before considering approval of the preliminary budget for filing.

When the court reconvened, Shaw asked if the information needed from the sheriff’s office was now available and the county auditor said that it was.

Kasprzyk said under the new figures, the fund balance, which represents the county’s cash reserves, is expected to drop from $12 million to 9.7 million.

The total proposed expenditures for the proposed sheriff’s office budget, Kasprzyk said, is shown as $3.19 million, which includes costs associated with additional positions and related expenses.

Last year’s budget for the sheriff’s office listed total expenditures at $1.74 million. The new budget increases spending by $1.45 million – an 83-percent increase in spending.

There was some discussion about how many new positions were being added under the proposed sheriff’s office budget.

Sergeant Mike Cantu said the department currently has 14 deputies and under the proposed budget will add 13 additional deputies for a total of 27. Three other positions are listed for a total of 30 positions in the department.

The court voted unanimously to approve the proposed budget for filing, although James Rosales expressed opposition to sections in the budgets for the elections department and the sheriff’s department.

During the public comments part of the meeting, Kenedy resident Ann Lang encouraged county officials to work out their disagreements with one another and with other local residents.

“There is too much argument going on and it is making our county look really bad,” Lang said. “I mean people are laughing about it, and people are mad about it.”

Lang also talked about the increasing problem with litter.

“Our county is getting very, very dirty,” Lang said. “We should be working on inmates working out there and getting it cleaned up. It is really not a good thing. We need to hear more about what we are doing for the county.”

Cheryl Moy and Meta Sparks spoke to the court regarding an agenda item related to forming a trash pick-up committee. The item was placed on the agenda at the request of County Commissioner Tracey Schendel.

Moy reminded the court that the issue was first discussed about a year and a half ago, but the court has not yet finished appointing members of the committee.

“We have a major problem with trash in Karnes County,” Moy said. “We need to do something.... I am asking you to take some form of action on some kind of program to help beautify our county.”

Sparks asked the court why it started to form a committee, but then there was no follow through.

Commissioner James Rosales said he felt now was a good time to refocus efforts to address the problem.

Commissioner Shelby Dupnik said he has reached out to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in an effort to secure services of prison inmates to help clean trash along local roads. At this point, he is waiting to hear back from TDCJ regarding a possible contract.

Moy talked about the enforcement side of the issue, and suggested that local law enforcement officers focus efforts on finding violators and then cite them for violating littering laws.

Elections Administrator Karen Opiela, who was present at the meeting, suggested contacting the statewide Keep Texas Beautiful organization for suggestions or advice.

Commissioner Rosales offered to reach out to the Keep Texas Beautiful organization to seek guidance, and he would then place it on a future agenda. Other commissioners indicated they would try to fill the remaining vacancies on the committee.

“Are we going to get some action taken on this now?” Moy asked.

“Yes,” Commissioner Pete Jauer answered.
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