Cameron County leaders eye budget

BROWNSVILLE — One of the items Cameron County Commissioner’s Court will discuss as it meets every week this month is the fiscal year 2017-2018 budget.

A major source of revenue for the county is the amount of money it gets paid to house federal inmates for the U.S. government. That amount is decreasing.

“Part of the argument is that we don’t have a sufficient number of jailers, and we’re out every year the investment we make in them by turning over one-third of our jailers,” County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. said at Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting.

At the same time, it can be difficult to hire more jailers or raise their pay when the budget does not have as much money to work around.

“I think it’s time we really look at their salary,” Pct. 2 County Commissioner Alex Dominguez said.

Dominguez suggested looking at how much the county pays its jailers overtime.

He also wanted to know much money is spent on training.

The facility in which the county houses its federal inmates has undergone millions of dollars in renovations, Pct. 3 County Commissioner David Garza said.

“I’ve been made aware that a lot of issues exist with the existing facility that could jeopardize the use of the facility,” Treviño said.

The contract the county has with the federal government is for a minimum of 300 inmates.

The sheriff’s office has put in a request for 43 additional jailers and one mental health counselor for next fiscal year.

County commissioners also discussed the sexually oriented business in executive session.

South Padre Island attorney Larry Polsky said he expected the county to set a date at the meeting. The county has not done so yet.

“We’re still reviewing the application … there is some discussion between the county and the applicant. We’re trying to figure out how to go forward in regard to the public hearing,” Treviño said.