The face of Grimes County is changing. New houses and better roads, but all of this improvement comes at a cost.
"If things continued like they're going and we actually had a $437,000 deficit like what was reported, it wouldn't be good for us. We'd have to make it up some way," says County Judge James Dixon.
In 2004, the county over spent to the tune of nearly $440,000. The reason Judge Dixon says is for improvements to roads, bridges, and the courthouse to accommodate a capital murder trial that set the county back a $100,000.
The county dipped into a savings account last week to cover the cost.
This year doesn't look any better for Grimes County.
There are three murder trials on the docket and county employees just received a five percent pay raise. But there may be a silver lining.
"We look to be almost out of debt next year for the first time in a long time for our county. And once we achieve that then we can really go forward with things we need to do," says Dixon.
County auditor Buck LaQuey proposes to end the county's fiscal year in September instead of December. He says it will pump close to $700,000 back into the county's coffer.
"What that will do is match one whole year's worth of revenue with only three fourth's of the years expenses. You have a once in a lifetime one time injection into your fiscal entity," says LaQuey.
But first, the commissioners must approve the change. LaQuey will present the idea next week.
"Now's the time we need it. Not next year. Not down the road," says LaQuey.
LaQuey also says the county is expecting rapid growth in the coming years. And the budget has to be in good shape to handle the added strain.
"Growth is heading this way. We approve subdivisions every month. So the growth is coming. If we can be ready for it, I think we did a pretty good job," says LaQuey.
But a good job to Dixon and LaQuey means fixing their budget woes without raising taxes or borrowing money.
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