To the Editor,
While there is a certain flexibility in how we can legally conduct business in county government, I believe that the taxpayers’ and voters’ rights are best secured by conducting most of our business at the regularly appointed times, and not in special meetings. As Ellis County moves forward in the 21st century, it would be nice if some of the practices of the past would not repeat themselves in the present.
About three decades ago, a special meeting of the commissioners’ court was called at a time when one commissioner was scheduled to be out of town due to a long pre-planned vacation. The agenda item was to reapportion the way money was allocated to the various commissioner precincts. Each commissioner is responsible for using that money to build and maintain roads and bridges. Needless to say, the commissioner who was out of town drew the short end of the stick. He and his constituents were bushwhacked.
A special meeting of the commissioners’ court has been called for Friday, Nov. 16. One agenda item is to canvass the vote, which is required by law. As of Nov. 14, the county website shows us that the other agenda item, which in my opinion could be better handled at a regularly scheduled commissioners’ meeting, is as follows: “Consideration and action to approve a Resolution to request a third District Court be created during the upcoming legislative session, to become operational in 2014 or later. – Carol Bush, County Judge”
If this passes, the taxpayers will likely be on the hook for funding a new court clerk and support personnel, although as I understand things now, the district judge’s salary would be covered by the state.
Is it time for a new court? Maybe, maybe not. But why have this discussion at a specially called meeting instead of a regularly called one?
In a parallel to the past, Commissioner Ron Brown has had a vacation planned at this time for six-plus months, and for budget reasons he has traditionally opposed the creation of a third District Court, at least until the economy improves. It is clear that there is an attempt to push this business forth while Commissioner Brown is out of town. Furthermore, I – who ran on a pledge to hold the line on taxes — will not be sworn into office as county commissioner of Precinct 3 until Jan. 1, 2012.
I think it is important that our county commissioners’ court make major budgetary and policy decisions with all members present whenever possible. This agenda item could be handled at a regularly scheduled meeting. There is no need to push this through, knowing full well that one member will not be in attendance.
While campaigning, the voters informed me that they want business conducted in a forthright manner and in such a way that allows public participation. I agree. And this is not the best way to do it.
Paul D. Perry
Ellis County Commissioner-elect