Whether it’s TJC or the county, taxpayers here are preparing to pony up more in 2011 as budgets tighten.
But one of our neighbors has found a way to but both spending and taxes.
Cherokee County to our south, has all the same problems we see in every other part of East Texas.
So how are they able to cut taxes and provide services?
We decided to find out.
County Judge Chris Davis and the Cherokee County Commissioners are looking at all the same expenses every county court faces.
Police officers retire, want a raise, need new cars. The price of asphalt for road repair is up. Worker’s comp costs are a burden. medical, gasoline, everything down to pencils in the courthouse all are going up.
And then there are surprises from Austin.
"Our state hospital,” Judge Davis says, “They cut the beds back, and our Sheriff's deputies have to drive patients to El Paso or some other state facility that has an open bed. That costs a great deal of money."
Usually, when budgets are cut, it is to meet lower revenue projections. Or even worse, even with the slimmer budget, taxes still have to go up.
Just ask TJC or Smith County.
So how can the Cherokee County Court actually cut costs quarter of a million dollars, and lower the tax rate by a penny?
The answers are wonderfully simple… according to Judge Davis.
“I’m proud of Texas and how we’ve been able to hold our own in these difficult times. Watching the world news at night and you see…I think we have fared a little better,” Davis said. “I think it goes back to we know how to tighten our belts here in East Texas and batten down and make it on what we can. If you can’t afford it, don’t get it.”
Now, the Cherokee County budget is finished, but they will have a couple of public hearings.
And Judge Davis tells us it looks like they’re on target for a decent 2011 for employees…and a downright great one for taxpayers.