Mike Sproul, Shirley Joiner and Rey Lucio were present Monday for a public hearing on Schleicher County’s proposed 2019 budget in the Memorial Building.

Shirley Joiner asked questions about the Road and Bridge portion of the proposed budget. Treasurer Jennifer Henderson responded that the Road and Bridge budget increase was due to an expected increase in revenue from fines and fees.

The proposed budget for the Road and Bridge Fund for 2019 is $514,000, up from 2018’s $408,920. The biggest part of the increase is projected to come from fees and fines in Justice of the Peace Phil Edmiston’s office.

Edmiston says he is seeing an increase in collections on county court and district court fines and said he is pleased with the results.

Mike Sproul asked if the commissioners had reviewed a survey mailed to them recently by Shirley Joiner that compares Schleicher County’s payroll with similar counties. A brief discussion ensued between Sproul and County Judge Charlie Bradley which culminated with Sproul saying, “The only thing we asked is the county do a study. Nothing has been done in two years.”

Judge Bradley said that the commissioners have considered the data.

Sproul went on to insist that “apple-to-apple” study should be done.

Sproul added, “Anyone with a brain can look at this data more closely if you have an interest in this county. I think it has not been done.”

“It is your opinion and we respect it,” Bradley replied.

For his part, Rey Lucio, who is a candidate for Schleicher County Judge, complained about the expenditure of $50,000 for a vehicle for Sheriff’s Department.

The commissioners recently approved the purchase of a new SUV for the Sheriff’s Office. The price tag covers the price of the vehicle as well as equipment required such as an interior cage, lights and sirens necessary to place it into service.

Lucio went on to accuse Sheriff David Doran of driving his Sheriff’s Department vehicle around town to intimidate people who signed his petition for a place on the ballot. He further alleged that the sheriff bribed individuals in an effort to keep him off the ballot.

Lucio then said that the Sheriff’s Office and Texas Ranger Sergeant Nick Hanna are being investigated by the Office of Inspector General. He then presented several documents to the commissioners that he said had previously been given to Sheriff Doran, but added that nothing had been done about them. When Lucio handed some of the documents to Chief Deputy Jason Chatham, he handed them to the commissioners.

Lucio concluded the five minutes alloted to him by saying that the Sheriff’s Department should not be funded any more than it currently is.

With the public hearing concluded, the commissioners unanimously adopted the proposed budget for 2019 and voted to levy a tax rate of 89.65 cents per $100 valuation in order to support the budget.

It should be noted that the budget reflects spending cuts in most departments with the salaries of elected officials remaining the same as the current year.

The revenue side of the budget increases over the current year by $396,086.72 with the increase over coming from through better collection of fees and fines.

The county’s tax revenue will actually decrease slightly due to a small decline in property values.

In other business, the commissioners accepted a bid from Regal Oil in the amount of $2.70 per gallon for a transport load of diesel.

The commissioners also approved a TxDOT Routine Airport Maintenance Program (RAMP) grant. It is a cost sharing grant to cover maintenance at the county airport.

The commissioners tabled discussion of an ordinance regulating animals. Justice of the Peace Phil Edmiston recommended that the county adopt some kind of animal regulations, but Judge Bradley suggested that an ordinance be drafted to fit the needs of Schleicher County before putting it to a vote.

Chief Deputy Jason Chatham advised the commissioners that the department will be hiring a new recruit, but will be losing long-time deputy Kevin Herbert, who will be moving to Abilene in order to help with a family illness.

Chatham further advised that several Sutton County deputies will be filling in to help during the time the local department is short handed. He noted that the Sutton County deputies will be provided a Schleicher County patrol vehicle and Schleicher County uniforms while on duty here.

Judge Charlie Bradley presided over Monday’s meeting with Commissioners Lynn Meador, Johnny Mayo, Kirk Griffin and Matt Brown in attendance.

The next meeting of the Schleicher County Commissioners Court is slated for 9 a.m. on Monday, September 24th in the first floor meeting room of the county courthouse.