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Commissioners Discuss Draft of Next Year's Budget

Bad news for Wichita County employees: a preliminary budget draft by commissioners doesn't account for across the board raises.  That could be good news for county taxpayers because at this time, commissioners are trying to moved forward with next year's budget without raising the tax rate.
    An increase in property values equates to more revenue for Wichita County.
    Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom says, "This will actually produce $161,000 more tax revenue."
    Which will help county commissioners balance next year's budget.
    Judge Gossom says budget time is like Christmas in July; all the county departments ask for everything they want, and in the end, they have to be happy with what the county has money for.
    Sheriff David Duke asked for money to hire eight more deputies for patrols, but the budget draft only provides for three new positions.
    Derek Meador, chief deputy of the sheriff's office, says, "We want to go out there and keep the drug dealers and the burglars and all the crime that's associated with drugs in check as much as we can.  You have to have people to do that."
    District Attorney Maureen Shelton requested raises for seven of her attorneys.
    The D.A's office recently applied for and received grant money totaling nearly $50-thousand.
    Gossom says that opens up that same amount from the general fund.
    "What was proposed by the commissioners is, 'Okay, we will give her that amount of money. She can use that to augment those salaries for those seven attorneys.'"
    The next budget is projected to come in at around $50-million, which is very close to the current budget.   
    This is still a draft budget.
    Commissioners must decide on the final budget by August 31.
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