Brown County Judge Paul Lilly, accompanied by Sheriff Vance Hill and other county officials, discussed several topics with the media Thursday.

Topics included an update on creating a veterans court and increases in funding to the sheriff’s office and volunteer fire departments from the 2019-’20 county budget.

Lilly said he wanted to let citizens know “we’re keeping our promises that we made last year, specifically when I was campaigning to become the new county judge.”

Hill described how the sheriff’s office will benefit from pay raises for deputies and funding for two additional patrol deputies.

Lilly reiterated Hill’s earlier statements that deputy Saydie Hammonds, who divides her duties between patrol and environmental enforcement, will become a full-time environmental deputy.

“That was the number one complaint that I received when I was on the campaign trail,” Lilly said. “Almost everywhere I went there was a concern about environment enforcement so we are going to be doing something about that.”

Lilly said a county of nearly 40,000 residents needs more than a part-time environmental deputy.

“We’re going to be stepping up our environmental enforcement in Brown County, particularly junk cars that have batteries still left in them, tires left on them, anything that is a violation of the environmental code, both state and federal,” Lilly said. “A resident sent me a picture just the other day of so many junk cars in the ditch and half-way on the road that they could barely get to their own property up around the lake.”

Lilly also said he plans to launch a volunteer county cleanup program for junk vehicles.

“A lot of people have junk vehicles around their property when they live outside the city limits where there’s no city code,” Lilly said. “That’s not a violation if they’re not an environmental hazard.

“To be compliant, as I understand it, they have to have no battery in the cars, no tires on the car, and we all know that’s usually not the case. What we’re going to do to make the environment better is make sure no toxins or anything are leaking into our lake.”

Lilly said the budget for the new fiscal year has not been finalized but is expected to be just under $21 million.

“The auditor has it and she’s massaging the final numbers,” Lilly said.

He also said the plan is to reduce the tax rate slightly, noting that some taxpayers’ tax bills have gone up because of recent property reassessments.

Others who spoke with the media were grant writer Bob Contreras, who gave an update on grants the county is pursuing and also discussed the veterans court, and Brown County Emergency Management Coordinator David Creed.

Creed explained a new program to provide chaplains for volunteer fire departments.

See Sunday’s print edition and for additional details.