Commissioners mull over budget plan and funding options

By RAUL GARCIA

Staff Writer

LA FERIA — Frank Rios had the City Commission’s full attention while he presented the city’s 2018 fiscal year budget’s first draft Tuesday night.

He went through the pages with the commissioners and explained the two budget options to choose from and funding options.

“We are hoping to have a balanced budget to fund basic services we need here in City Hall,” said Jaime Sandoval, La Feria city manager. “And we are reviewing different funding options.”

The city did not immediately release the budget first draft proposal.

Sandoval said the numbers are preliminary and may change.

There will be a second workshop before approving the budget.

Sandoval said the city is paying its bills and providing services, but it’s tough to not be in a position to provide a better benefits package for employees.

Discussion during the budget workshop also proposed raising the emergency services fee and paying raises for the chief of police and the police captain.

Currently home owners pay a $1 emergency services fee.

Commissioners did not discuss how much they would hike the fee.

Rios, La Feria finance director, also calculated a one-time 3 percent pay raises for employees.

“Everybody deserves something,” Rios said, referring to the one-time pay raises for employees. “There is a reason why we have police turnover.”

Rios said officers leave the force for better pay packages in other cities.

Before approving the budget, commissioners will mull over many of these proposals and others.

Rios discussed proposals for an accountant, police vehicles and a fire truck.

Rios’s big revenue funding idea is to go after people with outstanding warrants.

He said the city is owed more than $1 million in unpaid and outstanding warrants.

He said collecting on those warrants would help the general fund.

“We need to do our best to try and collect,” Rios said about the outstanding warrants.