Howard County Battles Big Budget Cuts

by Jacqueline Sit
NewsWest 9

"It's been a stress, a lot of stress.  I think each commissioner had a lot of stress we don't like what we have to face here," Judge Mark Barr of Howard County said.

Tough decisions the Howard County Commissioners are facing, with no easy answers.

"We're going to make personnel cuts and we're considering raising the taxes 6 points which would cover our shortfall," Barr said.

With a big budget downfall, County Commissioners desperately need to make some cuts.

Their plan: cut salaries and jobs from the library to the road and bridge department.

Not to mention, the sheriff's office.  A possible move that's leaving many like Sheriff Dale Walker with what he says is his biggest fear.

"My employees are a little antsy right now for what's fixing to come.  I'm just holding out and give them hope," Sheriff Dale Walker with Howard County said.

Walker is now fighting a new battle besides needing a new jail; he says he has a solution though.

"I think what they need to do is build quick and build adequately, not just for our needs but for potential revenue," Walker said.

We need a jail that's not just for our needs now but for the next 20 years.

Today's county commissioners' meeting was a full house as Walker presented a graph on a new 96-bed jail, proposing a move another county jail made to completely get rid of their big budget.  He says it's an idea that could also bring some much needed money to Howard County.

"That creates quite a revenue possibility that will plan ahead, not only house their own inmates, but also open bed space they can lease out to counties," Walker said.

That decision will all come down to whether voters will give it the green light in a proposed bond this November election.  In the meantime, Walker says he can only wait and hope.

"I'm fighting tooth and nail to keep my employees and I will until the very last chance of hope before they cut anybody," Walker said.

Howard County Commissioners will continue with a post tax raise meeting on Monday.