Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

November 19, 2011

No plans for commissioners to slow spending

H.V. Jones
Rusk

RUSK — I would like to be perfectly clear. I have no political aspirations whatsoever and this has nothing to do with political parties. However, I am very disturbed by the actions of the county officials in managing the county funds. As a retired manager (32 years) for an international corporation, I feel compelled to bring some transparency to what has developed in Cherokee County finances.

The numbers are in for the Cherokee County budget year ending on Sept. 30, 2011. Not good news. After using $3.5 million to balance the 2010-2011 budget, the reserves were reduced to $6 million. Some $350,000 has been allocated in carryover funds for the four precincts commissioners to spend as they want. This left $5.65 million in county reserves as of Sept. 30, 2011.

To balance the 2011-2012 budget, another $2.8 million will be required from the county funds, leaving a balance of $2.85 million at the end of this budget year. The precinct commissioners frequently dip into the reserves if they want. For instance, a couple of years ago they purchased new paving equipment ($400-$500 thousand). This was to begin new paving projects while costing the county taxpayers millions of dollars. In my opinion, this type of major spending should have been presented to the taxpayers in a way that they would know it's effect on spending.

Prior to the budget year 2008-2009, the budget for the county commissioners was $3.4 million. They voted to start a spending program which raised their budget to $4.5. million (30+ percent). They have maintained a $4.5-$4.8 million  budget since then. This alone has cumulatively reduced the reserve by some $4 million during the four budget years.

No plans to slow spending by these county officials. Next year it appears another round of county tax increases will be required to balance the 2012-2013 budget. Our county now has the highest tax of any that I contacted and almost double that of Smith County. Not  positive outlook for the future growth of Cherokee County. It will take years to regain financial stability that has been wasted by the existing county government. (Gross mismanagement of county funds.)



H.V. Jones

Rusk