Recently sworn in Brown County Judge Paul Lilly dropped by the Brownwood Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon to update his progress during his two months in office.
While speaking to attendees of Friday luncheon, Lilly highlighted his progress on many issues concerning Brown County citizens, but said much of his progress had been delayed by state-required courses for newly sworn in judges.
“I just completed my first two months as county judge and a significant part of that was spent attending the required courses the state sets fourth and they tell you when you have to attend them so you don’t have much of a choice. I finally got those out of the way and I’m finally back in town,” Lilly said.
While many newly minted candidates take potshots at their predecessor’s budget, Lilly took the opposite approach when discussing Brown County’s $21.7 million budget. Lilly described the budget as healthy overall with a reserve of approximately half of its operating budget in case of economic, natural or manmade disaster.
“This year’s operating budget for 2018-2019 was $21.7 million and that is a lot for a 40,000 people, but we provide a lot of services,” Lilly said. “It’s a lot lower than a lot of counties with a comparable population so we’re very thankful of that. Of our operating budget, we maintain a very healthy reserve.”
$1.4 million tobacco settlement
As part of a settlement between tobacco manufacturers and the Texas Department of State Health Services, Brown County will receive $1.4 million. Lilly said much of the funds will go to reimbursing indigent healthcare provided by the county as well as tobacco-related health issues experienced by county inmates. He added much of the remaining funds will go to the county’s reserve fund.
Lilly said recently hired Brown County Grant Writer Bob Contreras is busy working on finding grants to recover more than $215,000 in roads damaged due to flooding in 2017, as well as an AARP grant focused on transportation safety such as crosswalks and traffic lights not located on a TxDOT roadway. Lilly also introduced new Brown County Emergency Management Coordinator David Creed, who will become the acting county fire marshal when current fire marshal Buddy Preston retires.
Hearing criminal court cases
In an attempt to bring Brown County inline with current federal standards, Lilly said he will soon acting as a judge and overseeing misdemeanor cases. He plans to hear cases at least once a week. The commission recently approved hiring Rick Phelps, a former KOXE personality who recently left the station, as an assistant. Phelps later turned down the position, and Lilly said the courthouse is currently taking applications for that role.