Wichita Co. could face funding and position cuts

WICHITA COUNTY, TX (KAUZ) - Wichita County Commissioners are in the middle of budget talks and some agencies have expressed concerns about positions and funding possibly being cut.

Commissioners said a handful of variables are to blame for the county's spending issues. But they are aware they need to be more conservative.

They said they are in a great financial situation right now and are working to make changes to make sure it stays that way for years to come.

"Instead of waiting until the time comes that we act when we can no longer take action, we decided to be proactive," Precinct 4 Commissioner, Jeff Watts said.

Commissioners are facing tough decisions as they try to prevent a future financial shortfall.

Commissioner Watts said high health care expenses, a $70 million bond added to the tax roll, and the fee system are just a few of the contributing factors.

He believes fixing these issues now is like fixing a water leak.

"Instead of paying to fix the leak and reduce the cost, we just continue to pay for the water that's coming out the broken pipe," Commissioner Watts said. "We've decided to fix the leak."

To fix that "leak", commissioners have discussed cuts to some of the county non-profit organizations.

"No one's questioning the validity of those we invest about a half million dollars in total," Wichita County Judge, Woody Gossom said. "But it's a little hard for me to look at good employees doing a good job and say sorry your job is going away, but we're still going to do all this."

Commissioners have discussed cutting county positions as well but said they are taking these decisions very seriously.

"They do provide services that are essential to Wichita County," Commissioner Watts said. "So we don't want to do anything too radical to anyone."

"As Commissioner Mahler has said, I need to have the money in the bank so the check I write you is good," Judge Gossom said.

Judge Gossom and Commissioner Watts want people to know that no decisions have been made.

On July 25 they are expected to receive their final tax roll and will know more at that time.

On Tuesday, department heads will be meeting with commissioners to discuss what they need in the next fiscal year.

Commissioners said they want the departments to work with them and look at how they could save a little money.

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