County talks budget, leftover money from projects

County auditor estimates $4 million cost savings on $9 million project

County addresses miscalculated estimates

EL PASO, Texas - Current projections show new software for the El Paso County auditor will be roughly $4 million under budget. That estimate includes contingencies for overages. The original estimate was $9 million -- it was paid for by bonds issues in 2012 that are gaining interest.

Edward Dion, the county's auditor, said the cost was much lower after investigating the software that the county would need. He said a big part of the misjudged number was tied to the amount of time that had passed since the county last looked at enterprise resource planning, ERP, software. They've been using their current system since 1986.

"Sometimes we think we have a handle on the cost," said Dion, adding that a lot more information came to light. He told commissioners during a meeting on Monday that part of the change in cost came because it was an early estimate.

ABC-7 highlighted the project in a report last week because of the rarity of a project to be projected nearly double the needed price. The money was part of a $110 million bond issuance in 2012 that was tied to a rise in property taxes. The rise in taxes in 2012 was a move Escobar said called on the commissioners to "take some heat."

Escobar said the over budgeting wasn't an issues because the need for the money still remains high. She specifically pointed out needs for county vehicles in several departments.  "The list of needs is far greater, and those in the queue -- there are more than one or two in the queue who have needs."

Dion said he wouldn't be willing to transfer funds, now. He did, however, state that he would have no issue with committing the $4 million to other projects.

While the item wasn't tied together officially, the project was discussed quite a bit as the county begins to spend that $110 million from last year's bonds. Specifically, the sheriff is asking for an additional $5.8 million for a project tied to digital radios that would be equipped in both cars and with individual deputies.

Before the item was even brought up, Dion referred to the sheriff's item saying, "A lot more information has come to light and projections in reality have increased a lot." He went on to call the sheriff's radios a "high priority" of the county.

For more details on how county meetings unfold follow ABC-7s Matthew Smith via Twitter at @MattSmithABC7.

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