The Decisions of the Past EDITORIAL
LIBERTY, July 25, 2013 - The roots of incredible destruction are almost always in the decisions of the past. That is the situation Liberty County is in today and the result of the decisions made since Craig McNair took office.
When Craig McNair took office along with Commissioners Charlotte Warner and Norman Brown of Dayton which resulted in a Republican Majority on Commissioners Court the previous Democratic Commissioners Court had worked for 12 years to build an 18 million dollar fund balance and were successful in accomplishing it leaving Liberty County in just about the best financial situation of any county in East Texas. The Republican Majority took over in wonderful shape.
In the budgets, including the one now being considered McNair, Warner and Brown will have destroyed it and when they’re through the fund balance will be only 8 million dollars which is the absolute minimum it can be due to the requirements of bond companies and auditors.
Our money is gone. The annual County Budget is roughly 33 million per year and each of the years of the Republican Majority, they have spent 3 to 4 million more each year than the County receives in income.
The Republican Majority will have one more budget to do before they face re-election which they will begin working on this time next year.
Next year there’s no more fund balance to dip into and they won’t try to float a tax increase to pay for operating expenses. I predict they will borrow it to make the budget balance and aquire more debt.
Many candidates are wanting to give employees raises. When any private sector business in loosing 3 to 4 million a year it’s not the time nor can they consider salary increases. Furthermore when businesses are loosing 3 to 4 million a year and can’t pay their bills and obligations without borrowing more money, they have to file bankruptcy.
If Liberty County were a private sector business according to auditor Harold Seay, they would have to file bankruptcy.
There is no way to get the operating expenses of Liberty County under control without a reduction in the workforce. The only other way to do it would be to continue the present course and become Detroit, Michigan in time.
Polk County to our north in rough numbers has half the population, half the geographic size and their annual income and annual budget is half the size of Liberty County. Prior to 2007 they borrowed significant amounts of money for a couple of big projects and had no fund balance to dip into. They have borrowed money every year since about 2006 to pay for unfunded county operating expenses and they intend to do it again this year. They still don’t have a fund balance and according to the Texas Bond Review Board are 71 Million dollars in debt, have an annual budget of about 16 million and almost 15% of every dollar of income goes to pay for debt service. They have to live on only about 85 percent of what they bring in due to their debt. This approach leads to incredible austerity measures in County Government and it will take them 20 years or more of very lean times to fix this problem.
People and governments all over the place were living well beyond their means and taking on tons of debt to do it prior to 2007. This resulted in tons of houses being built and sold that should not have been built and lots of cars being built and sold. It all came crashing down in a world wide financial collapse at the end of 2007. The world changed and it can’t go back to way it was despite so many people that have not learned the lesson and are both trying to and want to go back to the old ways of living on debt and not living on income. Sorry folks. We have to get our priorities straight on what is truly important and live within our means. It could easily all become Detroit, Michigan.
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