Another Gonzales County Commissioners Court meeting, another round of discussions on the court’s usage of budget amendments. At the Nov. 12 meeting Gonzales County Judge Pat Davis raised the question of whether or not it’s proper for the county to amend a previous fiscal year’s budget.
Two of the three budget amendments presented to the court would alter the 2018-19 fiscal year budget, which ended Sept. 30, 2019. Amendment 64 would move $325 from the law library fund balance to the law library to cover internet service charges. Amendment 65 was described as an “interdepartmental transfer” that moves funds from a line item to another.
Davis cited a 2005 opinion given by then Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in his argument against amending previous budgets. Abbott’s opinion number GA-0340 claims, among other findings, county commissioners court have no authority to amend an expired budget.
“Neither the county auditor nor the commissioners court may amend an expired county budget
to provide that excess contributions received in that fiscal year were spent under the budget,” Davis said, reading Abbott’s opinion aloud.
“Once we have established this year’s budget, which is 2020, in my opinion, you can’t work out of two budgets. You have to work only off of one budget,” Davis said. “So, therefore we couldn’t amend any bottom line of last year’s budget, however we can fix it in this year’s budget.”
Davis was not alone in his concerns. Precinct 4 Commissioner Collie Boatright and Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Deidra Voight also expressed qualms with amending the budget after the end of the fiscal year at the meeting.
“I would like to investigate a little bit further before I sign off on 64 and 65,” Boatright said.
The court ultimately decided to approve amendment 65 and 6 and tabled amendment 64. Amendment 6 is for the current fiscal year and moves $45,000 from the general fund to the county sheriff for vehicle purchases.