Webb County to expect a twelve-million-dollar budget deficit

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LAREDO, TEXAS (KGNS) - Webb County is on the verge of a significant deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, which could potentially mean cuts in spending or worse.

Around September 2014 there were about 26 active drilling rigs in the county as of February of this years, that number plummeted to four.

"People are out there looking for jobs, the oil and gas companies are letting go of a lot of people", said Tano Tijerina.

That's what Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina said right after Webb County chief appraiser, Martin Villarreal, gave a presentation at a commissioner's court meeting, during which he informed county officials of the estimated $12 million dollar budget deficit, they will have to work with in the upcoming fiscal year.

Villarreal recognized the deficit is in large part due to a decrease in oil production as the county's mineral value has been slashed by fifty percent, that's a loss of three billion dollars in one year.

I spoke with judge Tano Tijerina to figure out how he intends to work with the impending budget deficit.

"Within the actual budget process, we would actually be cutting back as much as we can", said Tijerina.

Last year, the county experienced a deficit of approximately three million dollars.

"If this loss happens which we're predicting that it is - that could impact county services", said Villarreal.

Judge Tijerina says he intends to avoid interrupting operational services and instead, focus on cutting - what he calls "Interior spending"

"We have to do a lot more with less and so I think it's important for constituents to understand that you have a county judge that does not want to raise taxes and it's been over twelve, thirteen years that we haven't raised taxes. I don't want to be that person", said Tijerina.

The Webb County Appraisal District is set to finalize their report by the end of April, giving county officials a couple of weeks to plan how they'll operate in the next year.

The county's budget for the 2016 fiscal year is expected by early September,

Judge Tijerina did not specify if any county jobs would be cut, but we'll know more once the budget is complete.

Webb County officials are preparing to tighten their belts when it comes to what they call internal spending, as a deficit is expected for the next fiscal year.

Chief appraiser, Martin Villarreal gave a presentation at a commissioner's court meeting, shedding light on what could be a significant blow to Webb County's budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The county is expecting a $12 million dollar deficit, as a result of the county's decrease in oil production, which could mean cuts in spending or worse.

I spoke to county judge Tano Tijerina to find out what he plans to do.

"We have to do a lot more with less and I think it's important for our constituents to understand that you have a county judge that does not want to raise taxes. It's been over twelve and a half years since we've had to raise taxes. I don't want to be that person", said Tijerina.

The annual budget report will be due in a few months, adding pressure on elected officials to figure out where they will cut spending.

Tonight at ten, we'll give you a closer look at what this means for the county.

With oil and gas production going down, the appraised mineral value of Webb County has decreased by approximately three billion dollars.



 
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