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starLocal government provides public services to a community that private business and individuals cannot or will not (same net effect) provide. Examples include such things as eduction for children, road and street construction and maintenance, utilities (water, sewer treatment, trash disposal, etc), law enforcement, emergency services, cemeteries, and a host of other things that a community needs but require everyone to help finance.

Since these services are often inherently unprofitable, citizens form local government to collect taxes (make everyone pay their share) and provide them to the community as a whole. Since they collect taxes, they are required by state law to let the public know exactly how much money they collect and spend. Toward that end, the governing boards and staff of each local government prepare and make public their annual budgets.

Budgets are planning documents. They are prepared by estimating the cost of delivering whatever service they provide and how they will pay for it. Some services generate revenue (utilities) while others do not (streets and roads). If cost exceeds revenue, then taxes are assessed to make up the difference. By state law, these budgets are public record.

We have requested and received current budgets for all the local governments (7) in McCulloch County. Even though these are public documents, it takes some time and effort  to get them from each office. Most citizens are too busy making a living and raising their children to bother with it so they seldom know exactly what local government services actually cost.  As a public service, we did the leg work.

All of the local governments were very helpful and cooperative when we requested their budget except the McCulloch County Hospital District, which required a signed, formal Open Records Request. The three larger local taxing entities (City of BradyBrady ISD and McCulloch County) make their budget and supporting documents available on their websites. The two smaller school districts (Lohn and Rochelle) have websites  that are infrequently updated, but they were happy to send a copy of their budgets via email attachment. The City of Melvin and the McCulloch County Hospital District do not have websites.

Six of the seven budgets we received adhered to standard accounting practices making it easy to see exactly where their revenue came from and what their expenses were. The exception was the McCulloch County Hospital District budget which shows little about specific revenue and expenses.

The total of all local government entities in McCulloch County is $56,635,389. Here is a brief summary of each budget:

 City of Brady - $30,284,788 Budget

Utility revenues account for about 60% of City income.  Utility profits fund most other city services (eg. - Fire Department, Police Department, EMS, streets, etc). Only about 6% ($ 1.7 million) of revenues come from Advalorem (property) and Sales Tax.

Brady ISD - $11,225,605 Budget

Texas State Program revenues pay for about 56% of the budget. Advalorem  (property) taxes fund about 44%.

McCulloch County - $5,726,219 Budget

Advalorem (property) taxes fund about 51% of the County budget, Sales tax another 12%.  The remainder comes from fees and fines collected by various County departments.

 McCulloch County Hospital District - $4,993,886 Budget

The Hospital District budget produced in response to an Open Records Act Request raises more questions than it answers. The Hospital District and the County share the same geographic boundaries and tax base.

The Hospital District does assess and collect advalorem (property) taxes and receives a portion of the Sales Tax collected in McCulloch County. In addition, the Hospital District leased the hospital property to HOT Healthcare System (a privately held tax-exempt corporation) in 2011 (See Hospital Lease, Operating and Indigent Care Agreement). Tax receipts and lease income are apparently lumped together under Operating Revenue in the budget provided.

Nursing home lease payments are not shown as an expense for the Hospital District. The Hospital district has outstanding bonded indebtedness but debt service is not listed as an expense in their budget. Both may be included in the large "Other Expense" item.

The McCulloch County Hospital District pays about $3.39 million annually (68% of budget) for indigent care.

Rochelle ISD - $2,396,462 Budget

 Texas State Programs fund 68% of the Rochelle ISD budget, advalorem (property) taxes 28% and Federal Programs 4%.

Lohn ISD - $1,873,629 Budget

Texas State Programs fund 76% of the Lohn ISD budget, advalorem (property) taxes 17%, Federal Programs 4% and other sources 3%.

City of Melvin - $134,800 Budget

About 70% of Melvin's budget comes from utility revenues (water & trash disposal). Advalorem and Sales tax revenues total about $33,000.




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