In order to pay the $48 Million to build the jail, the County raised taxes 5 cents per $100 of valuation in 2000, for the tax year 2001. The new jail would initially house 1200 inmates, with infrastructure for expansion to 2,000 beds.
In October of 2000, the county adopted a $65 Million 2001 General Fund Budget and approved a 5.4 cent tax increase for 2001. Judge Pulido said the tax increase was ‘necessary to fund the $48 million dollar jail project, which will ease overcrowding in the present adult detention facility.’
The County was expected to spend between $3.6 M and $4 M for the year by the end of 2000 to house prisoners in facilities other than the county jail due to the lack of space and overcrowding.
Pulido was determined to keep the tax increase low as taxes among school districts had also been increased. Judge Pulido said ‘With the increase in taxes within the school districts, we wanted to keep ours as low as possible.’
He is still committed to maintaining a conservative tax plan and to do what needs to be done to reduce County taxes in an effort to keep county taxes low and allow any increases that do occur to be available to school districts for education without causing an additional tax burden on our citizens.
Under Pulido’s leadership and sound fiscal management, the 2001 budget was a real bare bones budget and in spite of increased costs, the budget only increased from $59.29 Million in 2000 to $65.8 Million in 2001.
The General fund budget pays for County operations including law enforcement, courthouse operations and administrative salaries. The 2001 budget also included $1.8 million to pay for 49 additional sheriff’s deputies that had previously been paid for by a federal grant.
“This is a bare bones budget that I think we can live within.” Pulido said. “We are addressing a lot of things from the past (such as building the jail) …. We have to bite the bullet to fund those things.”
To help ensure that the County was operating as efficiently as possible, Pulido brought in a Financial adviser, Noe Hinojosa to help the county plan and prioritize their 5 year goals and ensure that the money was available while ensuring that costs stayed within the 5 year budget for these types of expenditures. These included such things as road and drainage improvements and renovations of county buildings and the courthouse which had to be prioritized and categorized as both short term and long term expenditures.