Brown County Commissioners Court members are preparing to adopt the county’s $22.9 million budget and tax rate of 60 cents per $100 valuation for the 2019-’20 fiscal year.

Commissioners held a public hearing on the proposed budget and tax rate Monday morning and will meet Friday to adopt the budget. Also Friday, commissioners will hold a second public hearing on the tax rate, which will be adopted later. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1

The current budget is $21.7 million and the current tax rate is 61.47 cents per $100 valuation.

Michelle Wells, executive director of CASA in the Heart of Texas, asked commissioners to consider increasing county funding to the organization by $5,000. Commissioners said they will consider Wells’ request before adopting the budget.

CASA is one of four agencies that receive funds from child safety fees from vehicle registration. CASA received $13,259 in the current fiscal year, county officials said.

Wells said the number of children served by CASA increased from 136 in 2013 to 295 in 2018.

Last week, commissioners approved pay raises of $4,000 a year in the new fiscal year for deputies, which will help the sheriff’s office hire and retain deputies, Sheriff Vance Hill said. Commissioners also approved funds for two additional patrol deputies.

Commissioners approved pay raises of $2,000 or 5 percent, whichever is greater, for elected officials and other employees.

Brown County Judge Paul Lilly said earlier the budget is providing increases to the amount the county pays to the 11 fire departments in the county.

In the current budget, fire departments received a total of $60,500, Brown County Auditor Jennifer Robison said. The new budget is increasing that total to $122,800.

Earlier this year, Lilly said he hoped to disperse $100,000 in funds remaining from the now-defunct pre-trial diversion program among volunteer fire departments.

“I wanted to make sure we could do that, and the attorney general’s office said nothing says you can’t, but nothing says you can,” Lilly said.

“His opinion was, we would rather you use that for a criminal justice purpose.”

Because of the attorney general’s opinion, Lilly said, he abandoned the plan to give the pretrial diversion funds to volunteer fire department, opting to find money for the increase in the new budget.