(Orange, Texas)

Local News

September 18, 2013

OC budget talks continue as county approves loan

ORANGE — Orange Savings Bank, Division of First Financial Bank, may have won the bid for the $4 Million loan Orange County requested, but the loan must still be approved by the Attorney General which may take three weeks.

The loan is at a 1.95% interest rate with closing costs of $9,000 including a required $4,000 Bond Counsel Fee. The county will only pay interest on the portion it uses.

“This loan must be done on a schedule and must be done right,” County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said during a Special Call meeting on Monday. “This is a new venture for Orange Savings Bank and Orange County.”

Joe Love, representative of Orange Savings Bank, Division of First Financial Bank, said the institution matched the dates used by Wells Fargo in the presentation for the draw down loan.

“We matched Wells Fargo’s dates for comparing apples to apples,” Love said on Monday.

Thibodeaux said the funds would be used to operate the county until the taxes started coming in during January.

The entire court voted yes for awarding the loan bid to Orange Savings Bank, Division of First Financial Bank.

The Orange County Commissioners Court is still looking at the numbers for areas to cut from the budget as they meet for workshops each morning at 10 a.m. this week.

County Judge Carl Thibodeaux was absent from the Tuesday meeting due to being ill.

While $1,320,378 has been denied from the original Capital Outlay presented to the court at the beginning of the budget talks, $91,085 was moved to other line items and not actually removed from the budget. Among the items not approved for the 2013/2014 fiscal year are eight Dodge Chargers requested by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO).

Sheriff Keith Merritt asked the court if a workshop request was needed for the sake of arguing for the vehicles that were proposed to be cut from the Capital Outlay.

Commissioner Pct. 3 John Banken said the cars were cut out already.

“I understood it was proposed to take out,” Merritt said. “I would have argued concerning the safety issue with the cars on the street for the OCSO,” Merritt said.

“It’s not locked down until the budget is approved,” Commissioner Pct. 4 Jody Crump said. “But they are in our category as pulled.”

Merritt requested the court supply a list for all department heads showing what has and has not been approved to date.

Crump questioned the numbers from the County Auditor’s Department versus the figures from the County Treasurer’s Department.

“Doing the mental math, the figures are not adding up,” Crump said. “It will cause quiet a ripple effect. Which numbers are accurate? Because that is a big difference.”

Crump was referring to the actual funds available according to the Treasury Department and the amount available based on the auditor’s projected costs of bills that will be paid by the end of the year.

Crump took into account that $1M would be needed for payroll and at least one insurance bill that would be due prior to the end of the 2012/2013 fiscal year.

Budgeting Handbook for Texas Counties 2011, published by Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, states ‘The commissioners court should make every effort to maintain an emergency reserve. This unbudgetted unreserved fun balance should, at minimum, equal the projected cash needs for the first fiscal quarter to meet operating expenses...’

The August 2013 Collection Report presented during Commissioners Court on Monday showed that collection rates had slowed from the previous month at 96.78% collected, up from 96.5% the same time last year.

“The rate is higher than last year, but not by much,” Tax Assessor-Collector Lynda Gunstream said. “We hope to reach 97% in September.”

However, delinquent collections are at 17.59% this August while they were 16.72% this time last year.


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