Liberty County’s new budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 was approved at the regular commissioners court meeting on Sept. 28 following a second public hearing. The budget, with total debt obligations of $38.526 million, is based on a property tax rate of $0.5543 per $100 valuation, the same rate as last year.
Due to new properties added to the tax roll, combined with rising property values set by the Liberty County Central Appraisal District, the budget includes additional revenue of $4.534 million, an 11 percent increase from last year.
All county employees are to receive salary increases of $2,400, which will help offset some of the rising costs of medical insurance.
“If you have dependent coverage on our health insurance, there is an additional $1,200 per year being added to the expenses for employees,” said County Auditor Dwayne Gott.
Deputies working for the sheriff’s office will see an even bigger jump in pay – roughly $5,000. This will take the starting pay for deputies to approximately $53,000.
“When I was elected six years ago, deputies were making $35,700 a year,” said Liberty County Judge Jay Knight.
Knight says the increase is necessary to retain deputies, particularly as costs for training and outfitting the deputies is significant.
The sheriff’s office also is budgeted for three new positions – two patrol deputies and one investigator. Jailers working in the Liberty County Jail, which is managed by the sheriff’s office, will see the starting salary increase jump from $31,200 to $37,000 per year. Like the deputy positions, the increase for jailers is meant to be a retention incentive.
“It’s been a turnstile over there at the jail. We were having trouble getting people to stay even the 60 days it takes for them to get on health insurance,” said Gott, speaking of the high turnover.
The County has budgeted another $300,000 for the sheriff’s office to equip and furnish the new law enforcement center that is under construction on SH 146 north of the city of Liberty and another $2.5 million to build a sheriff’s office substation in the Plum Grove/Colony Ridge community.
Approximately $1.2 million has been included for the purchase of new completely outfitted vehicles for the six constable precincts (one per precinct) and 14 for the sheriff’s office. These funds will allow the constables and sheriff’s office to retire some of their aging fleet. (Note: In the original article, it failed to mention the 14 vehicles for the sheriff’s office.)
“The constables have been driving down the road on a prayer because their vehicles are so old,” Gott said.
The old KSHN building on the 2000 block of Sam Houston St. in Liberty is being purchased as part of the new budget. The County has set aside $325,000 to purchase, repair and equip the building so that it can be used as an office for the County’s purchasing and IT departments.
To see a full copy of the budget, click here: https://bluebonnetnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/FYE-2022-Proposed-Budget_Adopted.pdf