Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ah, it's budget time again...and Cary Nix wants to save money by hiring another administrator.

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Judge Moran's goals--admirable, but...

Yup, it's that time of year again, kids:  Time to cobble together the county budget!
So far, so good with this Nathaniel Moran guy.  But I think he's got it all wrong with the clownishioners in that he thinks they are going to intelligently respond to "leadership" when it comes to doing the right things for the county.  Here are his goals when it comes to putting together the county budget:
The first is to “provide the highest quality service to citizens at the lowest-possible cost, and be effective and efficient with every tax dollar.”  
The second is to “increase avenues of accountability and performance measurement.”  
The third is “enhance technology and automation.” 
The fourth is to “streamline series and operations of the county as an organization.”  
The fifth is to “engage in long-term strategic planning of operations, facility use, prioritization of staffing needs and organizational structure.”  
The sixth is to “continue cooperative efforts and relationship building with municipalities, other governmental agencies, businesses and other community partners to jointly serve citizens.”  
The final point is to “reduce long-term liabilities”
Good goals, in principle.  But with the clownishioners, you have to be a lot more concrete.  Think fourth-graders:  The "leadership" they need is more "direction" than general guidance or expressing principles.  A teacher doesn't appoint the smartest fourth-grader at the beginning of the year to "lead" the class then walk away assured that the kids are going to figure out how to do everything they need to do to get ready for the fifth grade.  So I'd be a little more specific with these people, and at this point I'd focus on the 2018 budget.  Here's what I'd suggest:
  •  We will not spend any additional money purchasing, renovating, or building new county facilities with the exception of facilities or parts of facilities that are absolutely needed to continue providing direct services to residents of Smith County.
  • Likewise we will not spend funds for capital improvements (including technology upgrades) unless those improvements or upgrades are absolutely necessary for the direct provision of necessary services to Smith County residents.
  • We will not spend any more money on legal services related to the Texas Open Meetings Act violations that were committed in 2014 by the county commissioners and former County Judge Joel Baker.  We will require that Joel Baker and the county commissioners reimburse the county in full for the legal services that were already funded by county taxpayers.
  • We will restore X miles of county roads to at least "good" condition.  Any available revenue and funds (including revenue increases over last fiscal year) that are not used for the county's other basic needs will be dedicated to repairing and maintaining the county's roads and bridges...
...And so on.

The answer wasteful spending?  Hire another administrator!

Commissioner Jeff Warr said he would like to look at increasing the county’s reserve and at reducing the number of county employees who use county vehicles as a perk.
Huh?  We're giving people CARS?!  As 'perks'?  Say it ain't so, Commissioner.  Roads are crumbling and we're letting people use county vehicles as a 'perk'?  If that's true, it's wasteful and shouldn't be happening.  So Nix was on the right track there.  But his solution?
Commissioner Cary Nix said he was curious to see if a fleet manager position could be worked into the budget... 
No.  Just no.  You don't need to hire a "fleet manager."  You need to demand that the department heads do the jobs they were hired to do.  All you need to do is to institute the following policy and communicate it to all of the county's department heads and elected officials:
Effective immediately, county-owned vehicles will only be used for official county business.  Only employees who are required to travel by vehicle as a primary job responsibility will be allowed to use such vehicles.
It will be the responsibility of each department head to make sure that his or her department is in compliance with this policy.  Unannounced audits of county vehicle use will be conducted, and administrators whose departments are not in compliance will be demoted or terminated.  Period.

Oh, and JoAnn Hampton is ready to fix the roads... 

...and Commissioner JoAnn Hampton wanted to see an emphasis on technology needs and roads.
Holy crap.  "Technology needs."  Everybody in local politics is expected to support "technology."   School board member?  Better support and fund "technology."  City council member?  Yup, better talk about "technology" in your speeches about "backing the blue," etc.  Of course we are going to support "technology," because that's what it takes for people to do their jobs these days.  Seems like every time we turn around, the courthouse and other county facilities is getting a "technology" upgrade.  Hell, every year the county gives away perfectly good computers to a charity.
And roads.  The stupid ***** said she wants emphasis on roads?  She's been in office since 2003, and now all of a sudden she is interested in roads?  Give me a break.  What's going on here is that Hampton's political career is on the rocks because she is under indictment for felony assault of an elderly woman.  So she's going to say whatever she needs to say to keep her very slim hope of getting re-elected alive.

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