2019 audit report shows an unexpected excess of funds

MARFA — Presidio County Commissioners Court members voted unanimously to accept the 2019 audit report as presented by Shelley Ruddock and Mario Arenas of Gibson, Ruddock and Patterson at last week’s county meeting.

The county was expecting a deficit of around $400,000, however, the report –– which ended with a qualified opinion for the county’s audit –– showed that the county was in excess of $675,000 in the general fund for 2019.

The change in the actual and anticipated figures for the general fund, Ruddock said, stemmed from savings across the board, money received from the City of Marfa and an unexpected increase in revenues.

Presidio County Judge Cinderella raised one concern –– the 2019 reconciliation of funds for justice of the peace offices, which she said collected over $500,000 last year.

A partial reconciliation on the office funds was implemented, with a complete reconciliation expected this summer. The audit was received by the auditing firm in March of last year.

Further into the discussion on the audit, Arenas informed the court that the county saw an increase in property tax collections from $3.2 million to $3.5 million, which was attributed to taxable value and properties increasing despite a decrease in the tax rate.

Revenue through license permits and other miscellaneous revenue remained “pretty consistent with last year,” he said, hovering around $147,000.

The county also saw an increase in revenue during 2019 due to a $2.9 million grant from TXDoT that was used for airport improvements. Smaller grants included a $44,000 grant for public safety and a $50,000 grant match from the City of Marfa for airport improvements.

Fees the county collects from the justice of the peace, district clerk and county clerk registration fees, such as auto registration, decreased slightly from $2 million to $1.9 million.

The debt section in the audit increased from $266,000 to $377,000. Arenas attributed the increase to expenditures on a year lease for the county’s phone system in 2018, and the 2012 bond payment being higher in 2019.

In other county news, the commissioners court heard an update from Friends of the Ruidosa Church secretary Mike Green, received an update on the Presidio International Rail Bridge, and voted to move Presidio County Attorney Rod Ponton’s office from a private office he has rented to himself to an office in the Presidio County Courthouse Annex in Presidio. Ponton’s move comes on the heels of the county attorney hiring a crime victim coordinator.

The county also voted to approve a letter to the Big Bend Regional Hospital District requesting a detailed report of taxpayer revenue and expenditures for Presidio County, as $713,402 was collected from Presidio County residents in 2020.

The county, Judge Cinderela Guevara said, wants to know how much of those tax dollars went to Presidio County indigent care.