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Eagle Ford drives county budget talks
Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. (from left) pleads with Wilson County Auditor Ray Wolff and commissioners Larry Wiley, Ricky Morales, Paul Pfeil, and Albert Gamez Jr. June 7 to allocate additional funds for more sheriff’s deputies in the 2013 fiscal year budget.
Wilson County NewsJune 13, 2012 4,469 views 8 comments
Wilson County, although on the edge of the oil and natural gas exploration activities associated with the Eagle Ford shale, is changing at a rapid pace. These changes were at the heart of the Wilson County Commissioners Court’s first fiscal year 2013 budget workshop June 7.
Wilson County Clerk Eva Martinez said her office has filed 9,155 different documents in the past year, mostly related to the exploration of oil and natural gas. She said the office now averages 118 visitors per day and collected $265,852 in copy fees over the past year.
Because of this activity, Martinez said one of two copy machines has broken down. Because of the machine’s age, she is unable to obtain parts, so she is requesting a new one.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe D. Tackitt Jr. said his deputies are scrambling to keep up with the area’s increased population. Yet again, he is requesting four additional patrol deputies and at least one investigator. Commissioners in years past have not honored this request.
“We are in dire need of more officers because of the oil field traffic,” Tackitt said.
The sheriff said the four investigators he currently has send approximately 40 cases per month to the county’s grand jury. They also are struggling to keep up with a surge in sexual assault cases. In the past two weeks, the sheriff’s office has opened nine new investigations.
In addition to the sheriff’s office and the county clerk’s office, the commissioners also heard from Dennis Hale of the Wilson County office of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. He said that the office recently lost former Extension agent Dustin Biela, who accepted an oil industry job that “more than doubled his salary.”
Biela’s replacement will not be in place until at least Aug. 1, said Hale, who himself is retiring Aug. 31. Hale believes it could take as long as six months before his replacement is hired.
While Hale is pleased with the current level of funding, he is asking the county to consider hiring a part-time 4-H program assistant, who would be paid $15,000 per year. The position, he said, would be supervised by the county judge, and would help meet the needs of the county’s growing number of 4-H members -- which Hale said has risen from 129 to 700 in just four years.
Other petitions heard by commissioners included:
•Tackitt is requesting salary increases for his employees. Currently, jailers and dispatchers start at approximately $21,000 per year, which is the lowest among area counties. Deputies in Wilson County receive a starting wage that is $6,000 lower than their counterparts in neighboring Karnes County.
•Martinez, in addition to salary increases for workers in the county clerk’s office and elections office, is asking that one full-time position be changed into two part-time positions, which could be filled by school students. She also said the clerk’s office needs an additional telephone line for a computer room, a collapsible dolly for moving files, a document scanner, and a larger bulletin board for public notices. The elections office needs electrical system upgrades and a barcode reader for voter registration cards.
•The Wilson County Tax Assessor/Collector’s Office is asking for pay raises for its staff and a new computer to handle automobile registrations.
•Pct. 3 Constable George Scoggins submitted a large list of items, including a pay raise and increases for fuel, training, shirts, and baseball caps.
•The Wilson County Emergency Management Agency is requesting a salary increase for its clerk, a digital scanner, an external hard drive, a fireproof safe in which to store the hard drive, and a part-time employee to work a minimum of 20 hours per week at $10 per hour.
•The Sam Fore Jr. Wilson County Public Library is asking to hire computer instructor Diane Berger as a part-time county employee for 30 hours per week at $10 per hour, after grant funding for her position runs out in July 2013.
•The Wilson County District Clerk’s Office is asking for salary increases and a $3,000 increase in its office supply budget.
In other county business, Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney said personnel from Thorn+Graves will meet with county officials at 9 a.m. on June 18 to discuss the status of its study of the Wilson County Courthouse. He said preliminary findings reveal that the building is 1/3-foot off plumb on the front.
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