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STATE OF THE CITY: Fauth focuses on fiscal responsibility

January 18, 2023 - 00:00
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Grimes County commissioners’ fiscal responsibility was a focal point of County Judge Joe Fauth’s presentation at the Navasota State of the City Address Jan. 11. During his 2022 county highlights, Fauth received applause when he stated that Grimes County is debt free, having paid for the $12 million Grimes County Justice and Business Center (GCJBC) with cash and maintains a six-month operating reserve.

He also pointed out that commissioners lowered the tax rate from $0.526933 to $0.480000.

Fauth announced that the 6,000 square foot Maintenance and Records Storage Facility is operational and stressed the County’s responsibility for records retention. Citing an opportunity for significant savings on shelving for the county clerk, Fauth said, “We went from over $200,000 to right at $48,000. We watch how we spend your tax dollars.”

According to Fauth, 420 roof top permits, the most ever, were issued in 2022.

He said, “Those folks will help pay for the services we provide and help us to maintain a lower tax rate.”

Recognizing that the $3.8 million in grant funding the County received is actually taxpayer dollars, Fauth said, “At the end of the day, we try to get as much grant money as we can back in here to take care of operations.”

Public safety, salaries

Fauth said budget accomplishments include the addition of three constable deputies. He explained that with the additional courtrooms provided by the GCJBC, more trials are taking place. Expansion of the Constables’ staff will allow them to fulfill all of their responsibilities.

The Grimes County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) saw the addition of three patrol deputies, one investigator, one SRO (school resource officer) and one administrative staff member.

Referring to county growth and the impact of crime from surrounding areas, Fauth said, “We need to make sure we maintain the safety and security of our day-to-day living in Grimes County.” Fauth discussed the $1.75 per hour across-the-board salary increase and the competition from big box stores saying, “We want to keep our employees.”

Of the County’s $31 million budget, law enforcement is the No. 1 expenditure at $10,149,942 followed by Road & Bridge, $7,896,448, Maintenance, $1,149,146 and IT, $1,029,320.

Nod to agriculture

A Grimes County industry not previously addressed at these events is agri-business. According to Fauth, Mid-Tex Livestock Auction and Navasota Livestock Auction combined sold more than 127,000 head of cattle in 2022 as well as another 18,000 head of equine, goats and sheep resulting in $96 million in gross sales. Fauth said that approximately $1.6 million is paid in payroll and comes directly back into the local economy.

Future plans

Commissioners will also consider construction of a 10,000-12,000 square foot suite of offices to house Adult Probation, expand Environmental and 911 Addressing and add a Pct. 2 justice of the peace office and courtroom. In addition, relocating the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) from the Law Enforcement Center will allow for GCSO growth and set the stage for a larger DPS office and driver’s license renewal and testing facility.

Fauth ended with his signature closing, “Our goal is to provide the citizens of Grimes County, Texas with the services you expect, for the taxes you pay, to return value in the form of a County that is a safe and secure place for you to live, to work and enjoy.”