Harris County Still Crunching Numbers

The Harris County Budget office is busy coming up with ways to weather a decline in tax revenue. County Judge Ed Emmett is thankful that the situation is not as bad as the City of Houston, where the mayor announced last week a voluntary furlough plan to help close the budget gap. Pat Hernandez has more.

Property values in Harris County continue to fall, taking with them millions of dollars in tax revenue. County Judge Ed Emmett says budget officers are developing scenarios in dealing with 10-percent less income for the county.

"Each of the members of the court are gonna have their opinion as to what ought to be done with that. I don't think it should be an across-the-board percentage cut. I think we need to look at it again, item-by-item and see which programs we need to keep and which ones, there may be some, we need to increase. We'll just wait and see what comes as the budget office comes along."

The largest single item on the county budget is the sheriff's department, which operates the county jail. Emmett says except for that,  an across-the-board hiring freeze will help. He doesn't think a voluntary employee furlough,
like what Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced last week, would be an option for the county.

"Not at this point. But if you go to the department heads, which the budget office has issued their instruction to develop these scenarios, then the department heads, and particularly the elected department heads, have some latitude as to how they achieve that."

Judge Emmett says he's personally looking at his office budget, finding things he can do in partnership with other county departments to save money. Bottom line:

"The financial situation is what it is, and everybody has to deal with it."

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...