Thursday, October 27, 2011

2012 Commissioner's Race of Paramount Importance


Conservatives across the county are amazed to learn that our county is $1 Billion dollars in debt. Spending sprees have not helped our county become a better place to live and most people have a hard time believing that a county with such a conservative reputation would allow county debt to balloon beyond belief. Taxpayers and property owners can have faith that this debt is merely deferred taxes for decades in the future.
I pledge to resolve a debt cap on the county so that no more bond elections may be held to drive our county deeper into the drowning pool of debt. Our children's futures have been mortgaged away and it is our duty to pay off this debt instead of handing it down to the next generation.

As Thomas Jefferson said, "It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world."

Why have we spent so much money on roads on the peripheries of the county? Our current county commissioner appears unfazed by the amount of debt that she continues to issue. We have to wonder why a commissioner that claims to be a conservative would spend taxpayer dollars like a drunken co-ed in Cancun on Daddy's credit card. Just click here to follow the money trail and you will find a convincing argument that Valerie Covey is a representative of the Road Lobby first and a government official second.

I pledge to take no campaign donations from Political Action Committees that have any sort of business with the county. It may not be illegal in Texas, but in my opinion, government policy should not be for sale.

Our team will plan on smart growth in Precinct 3 by resisting new bond initiatives for more road building. We have roads in disrepair requiring immediate attention and crime enforcement issues that need to be addressed with any money we may have left.

  • Providing needed services for the 400,000+ residents.
  • Building essential public facilities only when absolutely necessary.
  • Keeping the tax burden at the minimum reasonable level for now and ... in the FUTURE.
  • Cap County Debt at a $1 Billion dollar limit .
  • Urge restraint in approving more residential development in Precinct 3 until the County can afford the necessary facilities and services required by new residents. Promote Urban Growth Limits and advocate for dense, New Urban development in Precincts 1, 2, and 4
  • Promote new business/commercial development county-wide.
  • Maintain the rural economy and character of Georgetown, the Town Square, and the phenomenal resources we have in Precinct 3.
  • Continuing to press the State to develop an adequate sustainable source of transportation funding.
  • Oppose the Highway 29 project and 10 lane Cross-County Corridor that will burden our taxpayers for many years to come.
  • Provide the hard working law enforcement and prosecutors of the county with a County Crime Lab so that our citizens are protected from criminals and over anxious prosecutors that destroy our citizen's faith in Government.
  • LISTEN to the advice of the elected County Attorney and stop spending millions of dollars on outside counsel and left-wing lobbyists.

I can assure you that our campaign for commissioner will be a fiscally conservative campaign. The economy is picking up but there is still little room for private political donations. I will try and win this race with truth and technology. You can help by donating money to the campaign or spreading the word via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or word of mouth. We can get this done together. We must or our out of control growth will ruin our way of life.


We Are Drowning in Debt

Campaign consultants usually tell candidates to keep it simple, but steering Williamson county back on track isn't simple. It requires smart choices and informed voters. That's why I am giving you all the facts about how we fell into a pool of debt and how we can swim back out, starting with the dollars and cents facts about how bad our problem really is.

Williamson County Is $1 Billion in Debt

· We don't have an easy way to discover basic facts: whether interest is fixed or variable or how long the repayment terms are.
· Where is the Williamson County taxpayer's Truth In Lending Notice?

Williamson County spent $65,816,130 last year on debt service to keep our creditors at bay, the county's largest single expense. That's:

· Over 3 times what we spent on roads and bridges

· Over 3 times what we spent on the jail

· Almost 5 times what we spent on the Sheriff's Department

· Over 5 times what we spent on EMS

· Almost 7 times what we spent on Juvenile Services

· 12 times what we spent on "non-departmental" expenditures (where commissioners hide stuff)

· 62 times what we spent on the Parks Department

· 82 times what we spent on "Professional Services" (including "emergency" consulting services)

· 159 times what we spent on "Miscellaneous" unspecified expenditures

· 300 times what we spend on Veterans Services

· 302 times what we spent on Child Welfare

· 634 times what we spent on Recycling

· 705 times what we spent on "Buildings Maintenance & Repair," keeping all those fine new buildings we went into debt for

· 954 times what we spent on "Facilities Maintenance & Repair," keeping up all those fine new facilities we went into debt for in tip top shape.

· 975 times what we spend on the Crisis Center.

· 1,045 times what we spend on MHMR.

· 1,750 times what we spent on Meals on Wheels.

· 219,387 times what we spent burying paupers.

Our Triple-A Credit Rating

Banks don't lend money to counties that need it. It's not just about the ability to make payments.

· As long as property values go up, Williamson County keeps its AAA rating.

· As long as Williamson County collects more taxes than it spends, it keeps its AAA rating.

· As long as most assessments are not appealed, Williamson County keeps its AAA rating.

· As long as the bond issuers can continue to make new fees by issuing new bonds, Williamson County keeps its AAA rating.

· The State of Texas encourages counties to enter "cooperatives" that determine how the tax money they collect and don't spend is invested to make sure bond holders stay happy. Williamson County is about to give up control of its money to such a cooperative.

What happens if Williamson County doesn't collect more tax money than it spends? Or if it doesn't collect more and more tax money every year? Or if that new county investment cooperative that holds your unspent tax dollars makes an oopsie? Credit rating goes down, interest cost goes up.

· About $24,000,000 if AAA becomes AA+.

· About $100,000,000 if AAA becomes A.

· And you don't even want to think about B or C. Municipal interest rates can go as high as 10% even in these record low interest-rate times, which would more than eat up the entire budget.

But our commissioners have an automatic way out.

TAX RATES CAN BE DOUBLED TO MAKE UP THE DIFFERENCE.

Your commissioners didn't make promises to you about how high they can raise your taxes. They made promised to the bond issuers. Current tax rate is $0.46, can be raised to $0.80 under the terms of the bond agreements.

TWO THINGS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY ARE SURE:

DEBT AND TAXES.

Or maybe we can spend money we have with a lot more common sense. First, let's take a look at how we got here.

Williamson County Commissioners Court has been proud of debt.

Debt covers up dumb budgeting. Let's look at some examples.

Budget Emergencies!!!

Recently Williamson County Commissioners declared an "emergency and grave necessity due to unforeseeable circumstances" and defunded Meals of Wheels, recouping 0.03% of the annual budget to cover the 0.006% of the annual budget the county will spend on subsidies for Home Depot next year. But budget emergencies can result in greater expenditures, too. Let's look at just the last few months.

· County Judge Dan Gattis proposed and County Commissioner Valerie Covey seconded a motion passing unanimously to declare an emergency to buy $64,000 worth of law books for the county law library (June 28, 2011).

· In May 2011, the Court approved an emergency expenditure of $77,000 for "miscellaneous" after conferring with the Budget Officer and her assistant.

· The county declared an emergency and grave necessity to pay workers $148,889.95 for overtime pay and payroll taxes for May 2011 (May 31, 2011).

· The county declared an emergency and grave necessity to pay workers $139,436.62 in unbudgeted overtime pay and payroll taxes for June 2011 (June 21, 2011).

· The county declared an emergency and grave necessity to pay workers another $130,489.24 in unbudgeted overtime pay and payroll taxes (FICA, workers comp) for June 2011 (August 2, 2011). You get the picture. We don't budget for decent salaries for all employees. We create emergencies to let some employees earn overtime.

· Other emergencies include $72,000 for autopsies for Precinct 4

There's also room for funny arithmetic (but not in the ha-ha sense):

· Our 2010 budget called for paying $35,862,899 in interest, just but by August 1 we had paid $37,400,838 in interest and the Commissioners budget for $33,896,902 for next year. If we are borrowing more, how does interest go down? Or why would we prepay interest but not pay down principal? Let's demand a Truth In Lending document for Williamson County!

· In 2010, we spent $7,548,992.42 on healthcare for indigents, but the Commissioner's didn't think that was important enough to budget for, so the line item was $0.

· The Emergency Services Department has $639,578.34 to transfer to the "RCS Fund." But all but $30K to $100K of the amount mysteriously carries over year after year. Do we keep it in a mattress?

And there is also just plain bad policy. Some of it you probably have heard about, and some you haven't yet.

· There is more than one consultant scandal, and the public is only hearing about the little one. The commissioners got the idea that you just never know when you might need a traffic engineer. Williamson County is committing itself to pay up to $300,000 a year to have a traffic engineer (Kimley-Horn) "on call."

· Instead of telling county employees they need to choose a primary care physician, saving the county $1,000,000 a year in ER charges, the county proposes to spend the $1,000,000 by hiring local doctors to run a clinic where county employees have to be seen. This doesn't save any money, but it does limit employee rights to see the doctors they choose.

· The Courthouse, which was remodeled in 2005, after being remodeled in the 1990's, is said to need $1,500,000 a year in additional maintenance work.

· Taylor got a show barn in 2003. A new one is proposed for 2012, at a cost of $8,000,000 for construction plus $800,000 for architect's fees.

· So the county won't have to pay $20,000 a year in rent for her offices, Commissioner Covey proposes building a $27,500,000 Precinct 3 annex. What?

So how do we get out of our budget mess while maintaining the services that make the county livable?


1. Let companies come to Williamson County because it's a great place to do business and a great place for their employees to live, not because they get bribes.

The Office Depot deal has Williamson County writing a check to Office Depot for $15,000 a year for 5 years. To cover this, the commissioners defunded $71,100 in social services right now. Office Depot has to invest at least $3,000,000 and hire at least 203 workers. The $15,000 per year subsidy is just a little more than the additional $13,800 per year the county will receive in property taxes. Corporate Welfare? Laissez-faire? Do small business owners get such radically left and liberal benefits from our County government?

Make economic incentives transparent, and make sure Williamson County benefits.

We give tax breaks to companies to move here. We don't give tax breaks to their employees to live and contribute here. Maybe we would get more growth in real estate values and more economic activity in Williamson county if we gave the tax breaks to the employees of new businesses rather than to the businesses themselves.

When businesses come to Williamson County, it's because the talent is here. Talent trumps tax breaks.

When businesses come to Williamson County, it's because the work ethic is here. Honesty trumps tax breaks.

When businesses come to Williamson County, it's because the schools are good and the medical care is good and the roads don't have potholes in them. Sure, businesses will take a tax break, but no business moves just because of a tax break. Laissez-Faire

2. Don't get sued. In particular, don't sue yourself.

Williamson County commissioners agree to pay legal fees for judge

By Claire Osborn | Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 05:25 PM

The Williamson County commissioners voted today to pay $12,860 in legal fees that County Judge Dan Gattis incurred after a lawsuit was filed against him by Williamson County Attorney Jana Duty.

Some of the commissioners said they approved the payment because it was in the best interests of the county but declined to provide further details.

3. When voters authorize debt to pay for one thing, don't use it to pay for something else.

4. Declare a 30-year moratorium on remodeling the Courthouse, which has been closed for renovations 5 of the last 20 years, remodeled in 2005-2007 after being remodeled in 1991 and 1992. And somehow it still needs repaired.

I can go on and on.
I can be reached at 512.656.7368 or gregry17@gmail.com if you would like to help me. I need your help.


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