Smith County Commissioners to discuss changing policy to raise minimum amount to be kept in General Fund Reserve

 

The Smith County Commissioners Court will consider changing its general fund budget reserve policy during its regular meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday on the first floor of the county courthouse annex.

Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said he will recommend the minimum rate be raised from 17 percent to 25 percent. Right now, the county has been maintaining close to double the minimum amount.

In its recently passed fiscal year 2018 budget, the county approved maintaining a 31 percent budget reserve, or $34.5 million, across all of its funds. The general fund, which funds most of the county's operations, has $22.4 million in reserves, according to the budget.

Moran said the current projections for the year have the final rate at about 28.5 percent.

"From my view, the recommendation is to change the policy to reflect the practice," Moran said.

Moran has said that having a higher reserve ratio has the potential for allowing a better rate on bonds.

"One of the considerations for going to a bond election is going to be your bond rating. When they decide how to rate you, they look at your (general fund) rate," Moran said. "I think we'll be in a better position when we are rated if we have 25 percent."

Road and bridge has a budget of $9.7 million in 2018, including a $2 million transfer from the general fund for special projects.

Grassroots America – We The People recently released a statement in opposition to a proposed $100 million road improvement bond, saying the county should pull from the general fund reserves before asking taxpayers to take on the extra burden.

GAWTP Executive Director JoAnn Fleming said the organization is vigorously opposed to the plan.

"We don't support it. There's no justification for this," she said. "We don't want the county sitting there acting as a savings and loan for tax dollars. You either need to use some of that cash to pay for some of the road projects, you need to buy the sheriff's department the vehicles they need or you need to return the money."

Fleming said she will continue to work with the county to find a sensible, tax payer approved solution.

In other business:

- The county will vote to take action to replace a partially collapsed culvert on County Road 381. The work is expected to take two to three weeks, with no detours expected.

- The county will take action to approve the receipt of federal funds to be used for the Smith County Voucher Program, which will include Mobility Management.

Twitter: @TMT_Cory

Faith Harper contributed to this report.

 
 

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Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on The Murder Tapes, Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.