Williamson County recommends $219 million budget, adding 32 new positions

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WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Williamson County commissioners will begin discussing a budget this week for the next fiscal year that could create 32 new jobs across several departments.

The county’s budget office recommended $219,801,866 for the general fund budget, which covers most of the county’s operations. This will be presented Tuesday morning to the Commissioners Court.

In the presentation materials posted online, the budget office reported that it received requests to fund 156 new full-time positions in the county. However, it ultimately recommended 32, which would come at a cost of $2,638,788.

If the recommended budget is ultimately approved without any adjustments, most of those new jobs would benefit the county’s public safety entities. The proposal calls for four new employees at the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and another four at the Williamson County Jail. Emergency Services would be able to add one new position, while Williamson County EMS could hire another six employees.

Mike Knipstein, the Williamson County EMS director, said he was “super excited” to see that budget recommendation for his department. He told KXAN that six new paramedics would create the minimum amount of staffing needed for a new station being built in Hutto, located at FM 1660 and Swindoll Lane.

“This is a key station location,” Knipstein said. “One, it is south of the tracks there in Hutto, so it allows us to have an ambulance north of the tracks and south of the tracks. Again, we have good response times there in Hutto, and this is part of maintaining those excellent response times so that we can deliver excellent care to the citizens.”

Even though the positions are not funded just yet, the application period for those new paramedics ended Monday. Knipstein said Williamson County EMS will begin making job offers in a few weeks since the agency already had a waiting list of applicants.

“Obviously, we’ll be able to fully staff that ambulance, fully staffed and ready to go, where we can rely less on overtime, and it’s safer for our medics to work,” Knipstein said. “The biggest thing is that it’s going to provide excellent service to the citizens there in Hutto and really on the east side of the county.”

The recommended general fund budget also includes money to hire 10 new general government employees, six parks workers and five in the judicial departments.

Regarding the budget for roads and bridges in Williamson County, the budget office is recommending $42,742,810, which would include funding for only one new full-time employee.

The county commissioners will likely approve a final budget by the end of August, so it’s unclear how much it will differ from the recommendations presented this week. They’ll work to finalize their spending plan during the weeks ahead.

On Tuesday, the commissioners will also propose a new county tax rate. Last year, they lowered the tax rate, but the average homeowner still paid more in taxes due to the increase in property values.

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