Judge McNair Informs County Employees What to Expect

LIBERTY, July 16, 2012 - Today in a meeting in the Courtroom of the 75th District Court County Judge Craig McNair held a meeting largely for County Employees to explain to them the current financial condition of Liberty County as justification for what he intends to do to reduce the cost to the county of it’s workforce including payroll and benefits, particularly health care costs. McNair and Commissioners are currently in the process of formulating the County Budget for the upcoming fiscal year and it is at this time of year when information is gathered and realization about financial matters come to light.

McNair began the meeting by stating, “We had some years where we had a bank roll to work with.”

County Judge Craig McNair in his own Power Point presentation to the audience indicated that from 2007 through 2009 County Government spent less than it’s income and lived well within their means. However, in 2010 and even more so in 2011 County Government spent millions more than their income greatly reducing the county’s fund balance that had taken more than a decade or more to build and create.

It was on January 1, 2010 that County Judge Craig McNair and new first term County Commissioner Charlotte Warner took Office and along with Commissioner Norman Brown became the majority in Commissioners Court.

According to the Judge’s presentation in 2009 the fund balance for Liberty County was $18,997,885.00. In the two years since that time under the leadership voted into office in 2010 that fund balance has been reduced to $8,800,000.00 in living well beyond the County’s means in enormous deficit spending in just two budget years, 2010 and 2011.

Secondly, Judge McNair sighted a second reason for the County being in such a financial struggle and that was due to the tremendous amount of borrowing money greatly increasing the debt of the county. According to his presentation the County owes $23,345,275.00 million dollars which if paid on time won’t be paid off until 2028 some 12 years from today.

Also in Judge McNair’s presentation he indicates that gross wages for the county in 2008 was $11,490220.27 and in 2011 was 12,780,346.79. County employees have made modest gains in income over those years unlike most in private sector employment nation wide. According to the New York Times in from 2000 to 2010 household incomes in the US have declined by approximately 9 to 10 percent with the majority of that decline in the three years prior to the US financial collapse during the Bush administration in Washington. Household income and wages in Government Sector employment and incomes were largely unaffected as they remained relatively stable during this period and the suffering was largely confined to those working in the private sector. That fact is demonstrated in Judge McNair’s own presentation.

Judge McNair also sighted that in fact the Tax Office had reduced it’s staff by two employees by Tax Assessor Collector Rick Brown as an example that other department heads should follow if possible in order to reduce the size of the workforce.

Judge McNair stated that there would be no raises in order to reduce county expenditures for payroll.

McNair’s power point presentation indicated that the cost of health care paid by the county for it’s employees in 2008 was 4,585,378.44 and by 2011 had increased to $7,367,217.67 an increase of a million dollars a year in each of the last three years. In 2008 the cost of health care equaled 58% of total gross wages paid by the county.

Judge McNair has come to the conclusion to in some way take care of the cost of tremendous deficit spending in the last two years will be reducing the cost of the county workforce.

However, most of the meeting dealt with how to reduce the cost to the county for health insurance coverage of county employees. Although McNair had no specific proposal or recommendations formulated as of yet, a meeting has been scheduled very soon to investigate all the possibilities.

McNair sighted some things that are to be investigated such as increasing employees cost for dependent coverage, increasing the amount of co-pays paid by employees for doctor’s visits and other option as possibilities to cut and reduce the cost of employees health insurance benefits.

This approach in cutting the cost of payroll and county employee benefits come largely due to the fact that the cost to the county for health care of it’s employees has increased significantly.

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