Sunday, October 09, 2005

Last Week's Commissioners Court and DA Follow-Up

Some follow up on my post from earlier in the week on the Williamson County DA. First I would like to say that Patty Mullins of the Hill Country News has been doing some excellent reporting, not only the DA but the Commissioners Court as well. I found this article from Friday, Financing options discussed for county projects. It's on the doings at this week's commissioners court meeting. The first part of the article introduces us to commercial paper. I had never heard of it either. Apparently the commissioners have a "wish list" of spending projects for the county and they don't want to raise taxes to pay for them. So they will use any means necessary not to have to raise taxes, including extending debt as far as the eye can see, that's where commercial paper comes in. If the current wish list is approved Williamson County's debt will be over half-billion dollars. Check out this paragraph with the Orwellian phrase in bold:
"Williamson County faces major growth that stresses its resources so it must be innovative in its capital financing. The county must make its tax dollars provide more assets to maintain and provide needed infrastructure," state Weg-miller's presentation materials.
That is good stuff. That's why investment bankers make so much money. They really know how to turn a phrase. But the next paragraph tells us what commercial paper is really about:
"Commercial paper can be extended for as long as the county wishes or repaid as soon as the county wishes. This flexibility allows the County to better manage its tax rate," stated the proposal.
Wow! That sounds too good to be true. I'm not a financial whiz or anything like that but all I know is that if you borrow money to pay for something sooner or later that money has to be paid back, with interest. I think the main thing to keep in mind here is that those on the court now will more than likely be long gone when these bills come due. Does anyone know who is getting the contracts for all these projects?
Projects on Doerfler's 󈭨-Year Certificate of Obligation"“ list included the following: Central/Dispatch/Emergency Management Center, $10,000,000; equipment for center, $10,000,000; land, Round Rock Annex, $2,640,000; building, Round Rock Annex, $4,800,000; land, Hutto Annex, $331,760; building, Hutto Annex, $800,000; Williamson County Animal Shelter, $3,500,000; Williamson County Courthouse restoration, $5,250,000; TAC Building, $1,920,000; two 10-acre lots, $403,880 - for a total of $39,645,640.

Projects on Doerfler's "”Seven-Year CO"“ list include the following: CAD, $1,000,000; in-car computers, $1,500,000; Justice System software, $2,500,000; radio upgrades, $2,000,000; system upgrades - grant match, $1,850,000; implementation of Juvenile Information System, $100,000-for a total of $8,950,000.
Now on to the DA follow-up. The other thing the court did last week was approve and appoint the members of the committee to look into moving the mental health unit from the constable in precinct 1 to the sheriff's office. Check out who's on it:
Named to the committee are Cathy Grimes, assistant to Boatright and chair of the mental health committee; District Attorney John Bradley, who testified in favor of moving mental health before the last vote; County Attorney Jana Duty; and Hartley Sappington and Nancy Gettlefinger, both of Bluebonnet Trails Mental Health/Mental Retardation.
Just before that we had this from Commissioner Boatright:
Neither the sheriff's nor the constable's office will have representatives on the committee, because, as Boatright explained, the committee should remain "”unbiased."“
That's amazing. The guy already testified for moving the mental health unit and he hates constables. That's unbiased? Hmm, I wonder how he will vote? Not to mention, that from the article earlier in the week, we learned that those who will run the mental health unit once it is transferred to the sheriff's office have already been chosen:
"The supervisors (of the sheriff's department mental health unit) will be Sean Newsom and Mike Gleason," said Precinct 1 Commissioner Lisa Birkman.
It looks like the committee has already predetermined it's outcome and, don't forget, Mr. Boatright is the swing vote.

Don't know if you saw the Statesman article on our "Git-R-Done" sheriff yesterday, Williamson sheriff leads by example. The article goes a long way around to say that well...he 's doing better than the last guy, so far. But as we all know the last guy was fired for getting caught, drunk, urinating on the side of the road.

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