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Stoudt to lay out Gregg County budget

By Glenn Evans
July 23, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt will deliver a proposed budget for 2012-13 to commissioners next week that continues major outlays for infrastructure while coming in $1 million slimmer than this year's spending plan.

"This budget is looking fairly good," Stoudt said of the proposal he'll unveil for the commissioners court this coming Monday. "Our expenses, right now, are about a million less in operating (budget) than they were a year ago. The big projects this year will be in the capital programs."

At $45.4 million, the proposal is $1,040,000 smaller than this year's budget, which expires Sept. 30.

Stoudt is proposing the tax rate remain just less than 26 cents per $100 valuation, at 0.2565, a decision that won't be finalized until estimated property values are certified later this week.

Commissioners will get a final say once budget workshops begin next week, but their own road and bridge budgets are about $100,000 smaller in Stoudt's plan.

About $9 million is earmarked separately, under a capital improvements budget, for road upgrades in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation and the cities of Kilgore or Longview and their economic development corporations.

Those include a $5 million county commitment to widening and extending George Richey Road into an east-west corridor in northern Gregg County. Widening and improving safety features on Texas 42 from Interstate 20 south to Kilgore will require $1.3 million from the county, creating a turn lane off the Kilgore bypass into Synergy Park another $150,000.

The county also is putting up $500,000 as a 10 percent match to build a perimeter road around the East Texas Regional Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration is funding the rest of the project.

Another critical factor, regarding health care, will prove a moving target as new legislation creates so-called health care regions. Gregg is part of a multi-county health care region that will be administered through the University of Texas Health Science Center north of Tyler.

Stoudt said the legislation promises both more bureaucracy and better local reimbursements for taking care of indigent people and those with mental illness.

Those reimbursements today bring about $1.50 federal reimbursement for every county dollar spent, but Stoudt said the new law offers $2 for every dollar.

He said Texas' 254 counties must commit $27 billion to be eligible for the greater reimbursement rate.



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