NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS – Even with the budget nearly balanced, the Nacogdoches County Commissioners Court meeting ended abruptly, and County Judge Joe English and Pct. 1 Commissioner Tom Bush walked out of the workshop.
The meeting intensified when English and Pct. 4 Commissioner Tom Strickland argued about the proposed shared-vehicle fleet that would require commissioners to drive their personal vehicles to work. Bush then gathered his files and left the courtroom without making a statement, according to Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel.
Strickland disagreed that the shared-vehicle system would save the county money. He showed figures indicating that the carpool budget would require $120,000 to purchase new vehicles and a $60,000 fuel allowance for a total of $180,000, far more than the $105,000 currently allotted for travel and vehicle maintenance. Strickland said the fleet would be a cost of $75,000 to the community.
After English and Bush left, Strickland made a motion for Pct. 3 Commissioner Charlie Simmons to act as judge pro tem, which Pct. 2 Commissioner Reggie Cotton Jr. seconded. Strickland then asked the remaining commissioners to put aside differences and work together.
The court entered the workshop $108,283 short, but they reduced that amount by $50,000 by balancing a number of accounts, including road and bridge, jury, technology, permit improvements, and records management, according to Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel.
Though the temporary budget still shows a shortfall of around $60,000, English said the projected tax revenues for the next fiscal year have not been calculated, and he believes those numbers will balance the budget.
Rather than cut services, English encouraged the court to “think outside the box” when making adjustments to the budget. The court has consolidated several voting booth sites throughout the county, and more consolidations are still possible. The court also agreed to use current employees to tally votes rather than contract through an outside service.