The Port Arthur News
The budget hearing process for the Jefferson County Commissioners Court wrapped on Thursday, and Precinct 3 Commissioner Michael Shane Sinegal is pleased.
“The budget processes went like I hoped they would go,” Sinegal said. “Everybody held a line in their budget even though we had some increases where they'd be expected. This was the best budget hearing process I've been involved with since I’ve been on court.”
The Ford Park budget is a concern for the county. The 10-year-old facility asked for $3.2 million — $1,998,481 on day to day operations (approximately $100,000 more than last year) and $1,187,000 on repairs.
“We trimmed it down a little bit, but not much,” said county auditor Patrick Swain.
The repairs include replacing the furnishings in the suites that companies rent and pay for. The county has cut it back to just repairing the furnishings the suite already has, Swain said.
“They get worn out because people use them for concerts,” Swain said. “There are 15 suites, and we just budgeted the ones that were under lease.”
After making those adjustments, that portion of the budget went from $100,000 to $39,000, and the county also cut $45,000 for a new mower. But even that isn’t quite enough, Swain said.
“The bottom line is, it's going to get cut some more before it's all over with,” Swain said. “We anticipate some additional funds left over from this year, and we’re probably going to end up utilizing those to fund it.”
The county is now waiting on the final effective tax rate, Swain said. Once it is in, the commissioners will have a meeting on Aug. 19 to come up with some final numbers before moving into the actual compilation of the budget, which is due by Sept. 30.
“We're going to have to all put our heads together and see how we can streamline that budget, but still be effective and allow Ford Park to move forward,” Sinegal said.
Sinegal’s primary concern is employee salaries. While some favor a 2 percent increase, he said, he favors 3 percent.
“The cost of living is going up,” he said. “We’re trying to keep them to where they can at least see a light at the end of the tunnel.”