Category: 2011 Budget
On September 20th, the employees of the Collin County Sheriff's Department voted to establish a Civil Service Commission. The vote was 296 for, and 35 against.
The Civil Service Commission will be made up three commissioners. The County Commissioners' Court will appoint three commissioners. County Administrator, Bill Bilyeu has send the county commissioners the details of the process: "The Commissioners Court will appoint the three members of the Commission with the District Attorney, Sheriff, and Commissioners Court each nominating one of the members. The Sheriff will select the Chair and the members will draw lots to determine and serve two year terms on a staggered basis (Two members appointment will expire one year and the other member the following year)."
2007, the Collin County Deputies Association was had a series of conflicts with County Judge, Keith Self. The budget hearing last year ignited a conflagration over Judge Self's proposal to cut the county employees' retirement benefits.
Three days before the deputies Civil Service election, Judge Self voted against the 2012 budget - he was opposed to the 2 tier salary approved; 3% for sworn officers, and 2% for the remainder of the county employees. In a large part of the Deputies Association pushed for the Civil Service system to try to protect themselves from Keith Self.
Sheriff Terry Box did not actively oppose the Civil Service system.
The Texas Local Government Code gives the Civil Service Commission:
"Sec. 158.035. POWERS OF COMMISSION. (a) The commission shall adopt, publish, and enforce rules regarding:
(1) selection and classification of employees;
(2) competitive examinations;
(3) promotions, seniority, and tenure;
(4) layoffs and dismissals;
(5) disciplinary actions;
(6) grievance procedures;
(7) the rights of employees during an internal investigation; and
(8) other matters relating to the selection of employees and the procedural and substantive rights, advancement, benefits, and working conditions of employees.
(b) The commission may adopt or use as a guide any civil service law or rule of the United States, this state, or a political subdivision in this state to the extent that the law or rule promotes the purposes of this subchapter and is consistent with the needs and circumstances of the department.
(c) In a county with a population of 2.8 million or more, a panel of three commissioners shall preside at the hearing and vote on the commission's final decision in any case involving termination, demotion, or recovery of back pay. A panel's decision is the final decision of the commission for purposes of Sections 158.0351 and 158.037. The commission shall adopt rules prescribing the commission's procedures for assigning members to a panel. A panel may not include more than one member who was appointed to the commission by the same individual appointing authority.
(d) In rendering a final decision regarding a disciplinary action by the department, the commission may only sustain, overturn, or reduce the disciplinary action. The commission may not enhance a disciplinary action by the department."
Bilyeu also explained that, "As a reminder, the Commission’s duties are only related to the direct employees of the Sheriff. Court officers, DA investigators, deputy constables, etc. are not covered by the Commission."
The Commissioners Court is expected to start the process of appointing Civil Service commissioners tomorrow, Monday, October 3.
On Tuesday the McKinney City Council will hold the first of two public hearings on a proposed budget totaling $90.7 million in general fund expenditures. The hearing will be held at city hall during the scheduled council meeting that begins at 6 p.m.
Expenditures under the proposed budget see a decrease of about $2.5 million from last year. Despite the reduction, the proposal is still a deficit budget that sees expenditures exceed revenue by about $4.4 million. The city will use reserve dollars to bridge the gap without raising the tax rate from it's current level or cutting staff, though 16 open positions will remain frozen.
The budget under consideration sees drops in a number of funding categories. Some funds seeing large decreases include the Utility and Street Construction Funds, which each fell from amounts around $50 million last year to $536,932 and $1,976,130, respectively. Park construction also fell by a large amount from $55.6 to $2.7 million.
City services paid for through the general fund such as police, fire, public works, city government and parks and libraries will also see reductions. Public works funding will see the largest decline with a 9.4 percent decrease, followed by police (-4.7) and fire (-1.9). In an earlier budget hearing, the police department said it will make up for the loss by delaying vehicle replacement and using less money on computer hardware, uniforms and ammunition.
Under the proposed budget, the general fund balance will drop from 27 million at the start of the fiscal year to an estimated 23.8 million. That keeps it about two million over the city’s 90-Day Revenue Requirement, though projections for Fiscal Year 2011-12 show the balance falling below that amount if the current rate of expenditures to revenue continues.
10:30 on Monday night, and the public hearing on the budget is in its 4th hour. I've been watching it live on the web, and texting some in the room.
I've had it, I'm going to bed.
Hundreds of employees and Tea Party members turned out to take part in the debate on employee benefits.
I probably shouldn't call the hearing a hearing, or even a debate. Very few, with the notable exception of Sheriff Terry Box, and a few department heads seemed willing to actually discuss .... they came to fight and shout at each other.
Judge Keith Self found himself a target by employees who believed he manufactured the issues surrounding the pension plans in a bid to run for congress. They're probably right.
While quite a few Tea Party member made their point that county employees should face the same realities of pension that they face in small business, the overall impression I got from these first 4 hours of comments was summed up by County Tax Collector Kenneth Maun, when he shouted,
"Judge Self, your math sucks!"
"There's battle lines bein' drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speakin' their minds
A-gettin' so much resistance from behind."
"I think it's time we stop.
Hey, what's that sound?
Everybody look what's goin' down."
For what it's worth, Buffalo Springfield, 1967
There's battle lines bein' drawn.
On Monday evening at 6:00 PM the Central Jury room of the new Collin County Courthouse will be the scene of a fight that need never happened - over a crises that never was.
For the last year or more we have heard predictions of pending economic doom. The county would have to drastically cut back on services to avoid huge deficits.
That crises never happened. A fact that I think actually disappointed the doomsdayers, chief among them the County Judge, Keith Self. The truth is that the revenue shortfall is very mild, and the county has more than sufficient slack in the budget to overcome the slight reduction in tax revenue. After all, Collin County typically spends only 90-95% of its annual budget. The excess is deposited in the reserve fund -- a fund that is capable of sustaining county government for over 9 months, even if no taxes were collected.
And while some may find justification in complaining that their tax burden is too great, the county taxes are certainly not the culprit. A taxpayer in McKinnney for example, who owns a $207,000 home pays $5,090 in property taxes:
- School District - $3,194
- City - $1,214
- County - $503
- College District - $179
Looking at other Texas counties of similar size, Collin County's tax rate is the second lowest.
- Tarrant County - .2640
- Bexar County - .3269
- Travis County - .4215
- El Paso County - .3382
- Hidalgo County - .5900
- Collin County - .2425
- Denton County - .2358
- Fort Bend County - .4790
- Cameron County - .3632
- Nueces County - .6468
- Montgomery County - .4838
Collin County remains one of the most affluent and fastest growing counties in the entire nation. Our growth has to a large extent blunted the impact of the economic recession. We here in Collin County continue to enjoy low taxes and a balanced budget.
In fact, the county is in such good shape financially that it has cut the tax rate 3 times in the last four years.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Nevertheless, some on the commissioners court feel that drastic action is required to protect the county's taxpayers from ruinous over-taxation.
Judge Self and Commissioner Matt Shaheen have an agenda to make county government more like the 'private sector'. They believe only in this way will the citizens get real value for their tax money.
Now I don't know where Keith Self learned private sector business practice. I didn't think that was a subject taught at the US Military Academy. Nor would a life spent with Pentagon budgets seem to prepare him for the role of preacher of the private sector.
Nevertheless Self has determined that the path to private sector savings lie in attacking and insulting his own employees. This has indeed been a path a few unsuccessful business have taken, notably Greyhound Bus a few years back, (Its CEO was fired after a huge outcry over he gave himself a bonus right after cutting employees wages and jobs).
Judge Self, ignoring the fact that he is paid over $130,000 for a part time job, has decided that county employees are receiving 'gold plated' benefits. His characterizations have made it seem that county employees are nothing more than leeches sucking money out of the wallets of the taxpayer.
Ignoring the fact that no CEO ever won by attacking his own team, a close analysis shows that Self is simply wrong.
His rhetoric is full of allusions to county employees retiring with $100,000+, even with $200,00 pensions. He is wrong.
An analysis of retirement data from the Texas County and District Retirement System by The Collin County Observer shows that of the 194 employees who are currently eligible to retire in 2011:
- Their average age is 63 years old
- Their average service is 19 years
- Their average 2011 salary will be $52,700
- Their average pension benefit will be $29,600 or 56% of their current salary.
Now 56% of salary after 19 years and after making 7% salary deductions is hardly gold plated.
But Self's rhetoric is not concerned with the reality on the ground. He has instead made a great deal over the 250% County match, and its resultant unfunded future liability.
Both he and Shaheen have stated over and over that no private company offers a 250% match.
He ignores the truth that private pensions and 401k plans require that the company match be made at the same time as the employee's contribution. The company match then earns compound interest over the life of the pension.
The county 250% match however is made only after the employee has retired.
Self's diatribe has focused on a statistic that taken out of context does make it appear that the county employees are somehow getting rich. They are not.
Everybody look what's goin' down
The proposed 2011 budget reduces the county retirement match from 250% to 200%. It also increases the cost and deductibles for employee health insurance.
It, for the second year in a row fails to look at competitive salary rates and instead grants only a minimal pay for performance raise, that for most employees will be under 1%
Yet that is not enough for those who want to see public servants as blood sucking leeches. Judge Self wants to take his fight to further cut pension matches to the people in the two public hearings scheduled for next week.
He and Commissioner Shaheen have appeared at several Tea Party meetings to urge members to attend and support his effort to further reduce the pension match. His Facebook page links to several "calls to action" all asking for unhappy taxpayers to lobby their commissioner and then attend the hearings.
Predictably, most county employees see things differently. Several elected officials have spoken publicly and have urged employee and citizens to both speak out and attend the public hearings.
A large number are expected to turn out, with overflow crowds anticipated.
That's right, a large turnout to fight over a budget that cuts taxes.
Link to The Texas County and District Retirement System presentation to Collin County, August 27, 2010
Final vote on the budget is scheduled for September 13, 2010
Link to The Texas County and District Retirement System presentation to Collin County, August 27, 2010
Public Hearings on the 2011 budget will be held at:
Monday, August 30, 2010 at 6:30 PM
Central Jury Room - Collin County Courthouse 2100 Bloomdale Road, McKinney, Texas
Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 1:30 PM
Central Jury Room Collin County Courthouse 2100 Bloomdale Road, McKinney, Texas
Final vote on the budget is scheduled for September 13, 2010
From The County Line blog by Commissioner Joe Jaynes, August 19:
You have seen the numbers before:
Approximately 40% of all current county employees could make over $100,000 per year in retirement.
246 could receive more than $200,000 per year.
More than 500 could receive more in retirement than their final salary just before retirement.
It has been sent out in several mass emails and presented in commissioners’ court.
Those numbers are wrong on so many levels.
They are based on an actuarial table provided by the Texas County and District Retirement System or (TCDRS) which assumes that all employees at Collin County will work until they are 60 with new employees working up to 40 years during which all employees will receive a 4% raise per year compounded annually.
The reality is that no one works at Collin County for 40 years with 4% raises compounded annually. This year we proposed a 1.5% raise and last year we had 2% raise and those raises went only to employees who were our top performers.
More importantly, they do not take into account that we have salary caps for all our employees. For example a truck driver at Collin County “tops out” at approximately $39,000 a year.
The scenario presented above has that same truck driver working here for 40 years (our average length of employment is 10 years) and making approximately $180,000 a year!
The “facts” stated by are just not realistic. The TCDRS said so in a letter sent to the county on August 12. According to the TCDRS, “The data provided…was not intended to be used as an estimate of future retirement benefits to be paid by your plan.”
This, however, did not deter some from the continued presentation of these “facts” in mass emails and in interviews with the Dallas Morning News.
Our county retirement plan through the TCDRS is a 2:1 match plus 7% guaranteed annual interest after a vesting period of 8 years.
Is that plan to rich? That’s a fair question which I look forward to addressing in future emails.
However, in the meantime, I wanted to set the record straight and cut through the reckless and misleading political spin that has been presented.
It is my belief that you should always shoot straight with the taxpayers and that is what I will do as we carry on this conversation.
On another note, my family and I were deciding how to spend the $5.50 annual tax savings that the commissioners’ court recently passed. We decided to go to Starbucks and used the savings to buy and share a skinny vanilla latte. Unfortunately, on the way home it spilled all over the car when we hit a pothole.
and on August 26th, Joe wrote:
The average salary for Collin County citizens, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is $72,801.
The average salary for Collin County employees, according to our HR Department, is $48,030.
Like most governmental entities, Collin County pays less than the private sector. As you know, the rule of thumb for anyone going to work in the public sector is that the pay is lower but the benefits are better.
This is why Collin County like most counties and virtually every city in this county and region has a retirement plan based on a 2:1 match plus a varied amount of interest. The Collin County amount of interest is 7 percent.
It is important that we break this down. The 7 percent interest is state law, however, it is actually below the S&P 500 average for a person who is retiring after 20 years of service. For example, if a twenty year retiree had invested in the stock market for the last 20 years their return would be over 10 percent per year. Check out the following link to run stock market averages over various times: http://www.moneychimp.com/features/market_cagr.htm
Once an employee retires, Collin County matches the employee’s final account balance with a $2 match for every dollar saved.
Sound too generous?
On the surface it does, but once you look at our county’s retirement history it really comes out to be a much smaller amount than others have previously claimed.
For example, check out these averages for Collin County retirees. All the information below is provided by the Texas County and District Retirement System or (TCDRS):
Average Age at Retirement: 62
Average Service at Retirement: 18 years
Average Monthly Payment at Retirement: $1,500
Average Salary Replacement Ratio: 39%
It is also important to note that out of all the employees that will work for Collin County over the next twenty years only 1 in 4 will actually retire and draw their $2 match.
Listed below are projections, again provided by the TCDRS, which shows the number of future retirees and the average benefits:
2009 281 retirees with an average benefit of $22,269
2010 337 retirees with an average benefit of $23,678
2015 567 retirees with an average benefit of $30,153 which in 2010 dollars amounts to $24,529
2020 782 retirees with an average benefit of $36,230 which in 2010 dollars amounts to $24,815
2025 949 retirees with an average benefit of $44,541 which in 2010 dollars amounts to $25,687.
The dollars that Collin County will pay its future retirees will come from the following areas:
Employee Deposits: 11 percent
Employer Contributions, i.e., Collin County taxpayers: 13 percent
Investment Earnings: 76 percent
As you can see this is a plan that no one will grow rich on nor is it one that is unfair to the taxpayers.
To completely fund this plan Collin County will set aside $40 million over the next 20 years. To put this into perspective, this 20-year figure is less than half Collin County’s yearly $85 million payroll.
This commissioners’ court has taken proactive steps to address this “unfunded liability.” As a matter of fact, this year we took $5 million out of our $132 million in reserves to ensure that this is paid off ahead of schedule.
As this issue of public sector retirement funds becomes a problem for places like California and Illinois, Collin County stands out as a shining example of your local government actually having a handle on this very complicated issue at a minimal cost to the taxpayers.
So when you read postings that 246 county retirees will earn $200,000, that over 40% will earn over $100,000 and that Collin County is $40 million “in the hole,” the bottom line is that they are just not true.
John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things.” Hopefully the facts presented here will clear up any confusion that has been stirred up on this issue.
Please plan to attend our budget public hearing on Monday, August 30 at 6.30pm and Tuesday, September 7 at 1.30pm. Both public hearings will be held in the Central Jury Room at the Collin County Courthouse.
And from County Judge Keith Self's Facebook page:
The Pension Plan Saga
by Keith Self on Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 8:09pm
The world has changed. The private sector has moved almost exclusively to 401(k) pension plans where employees manage their retirement assets in the marketplace.
But government plans have not changed with the times. Our county pension plan still matches 250% and guarantees 7% interest, an unrealistic expectation in the marketplace.
By the way, I just received a letter of clarification from the retirement system in Austin. The letter states that "It is projected that the average current employee will retire with 13 years service. After adjusting for 13 years assumed inflation, the estimated average annual benefit for those employees who will receive a retirement benefit would be $59,634 in today's dollars." If that's correct, it's amazing!
This government pension plan issue is getting attention all over the nation, but changing our retirement system will not be easy. Word is moving quickly.
One fine employee who has served long and honorably with the county wrote that he would make $150 LESS (his capitalization) per month than his current salary if he retired next year. That is EXACTLY my point. When did government retirement start to mean that you make a full salary for the rest of your life? It certainly does not mean that in the private sector.
How many of you would love to see a retirement plan where you receive only $150 LESS per month than your final salary?
I'm getting feedback on lower paid employees. Let's be honest. Lower paid private sector employees may not contribute to a 401(k) at all because they are just trying to feed the family. Yet that same employee is helping pay that 250% match and 7% interest on government plans.
Our more mature private sector workers and retirees have seen their 401(k) plummet in value over the past several years, yet they are also helping pay that 250% match and 7% interest on government plans that are insulated from the realities of the marketplace.
My whole effort is to more closely match our public sector pension plans with private sector pension plans.
This issue reminds me of two previous compensation issues in our county:
1) There was the great "Salary Saga" (Dallas Morning News actually named it) of 2006 when the Commissioners Court voted themselves a 17% pay raise the year before I took office. The court had been taking heat for their longevity pay for over a year. When the court finally cut their own longevity pay and auto allowance, they replaced them almost dollar for dollar in salary. As you can guess, the public didn't take kindly to a 17% government pay raise. Something like 400 folks showed up at a public hearing. After several votes, the court settled on something less than 17%.
2) Collin County used to give 8% pay raises to retirees in this same system that we are discussing. That's right, 8% Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) to folks already retired. The state stepped in to stop that several years ago.
One more point: When is someone going to think about the future taxpayers of Collin County? The federal
government is saddling our kids and grandkids with unimaginable future debt and our own county cannot sustain our retirement program. Yet everyone is writing about themselves and their entitlements - does no one care about the future and about our children? The federal government gets all the coverage, but what about our children and grandchildren right here in Collin County? We enjoy a great life here - will it still be available for our grandchildren, or will taxes to support full government salaries for life drive them out?
Do you remember when General Motors was described as a health care provider that happened to make cars on the side? I don't want Collin County to be described as a retirement plan manager that happens to provide public services on the side.
Government retirement should not mean full salary for life. What's so controversial about that?
District Judge Ray Wheless sent out an email this week:
Dear Judge Self, Commissioner Jaynes, Commissioner Ward, Commissioner Shaheen and Commissioner Hoagland:
The following information is posted by the County on its official website:
* The fastest growing county in Texas, and one of the fastest growing in the U.S.
* The 6th most populous county in Texas
* Among counties with more than a half-million people, the highest sustained growth rate since the last Census in 2000, at 52.1 percent
* The wealthiest county in Texas
Collin County has experienced major changes since 2000:
* The population has grown by more than 52 percent
* The number of households has grown by 35 percent
* Asian and African American populations have more than doubled
* The Latino population has increased by 85 percent
* The Caucasian population has grown by 35 percent
* Householders aged 65 and older have increased by almost 65 percent
Paychecks & Such
* County residents' per capita income is 28 percent (or $10,000 per year) higher than the national rate
* Our median family income here is almost 34 percent (or $30,000 per year) higher than the U.S. median
* The 2006 county median household income was estimated at $74,051
* Less than two percent of county families were estimated to have received public cash assistance in 2006
* Only four percent of county families were estimated to fall at or below the 2006 federal poverty line ($9,800 annual income for one individual and $20,000 for a family of four)
What is not posted on the County's website is that, notwithstanding our explosive growth and wealth, our criminal justice system has made Collin County one of the safest places in the U.S. to live. And we have done that by attracting top quality personnel.
One of the primary reasons I left my law practice in 2000 and assumed the Bench was the retirement system Collin County offered. With my appointment to the District Court, I personally don't have to worry about the County's plans for reducing its retirement contributions. However, the cuts you make now will affect the type of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers the County has in the future. In other words, the total compensation package must be attractive enough to interest the best lawyers from private practice and the best prosecutors from the D.A.'s office to seek out judicial positions. If not, then only the less successful private attorneys will seek the County Court positions and our best prosecutors will choose to enter private practice.
Many of our law enforcement personnel and assistant district attorneys came to work for the County because of the current retirement match. If that is reduced, they may well have less reason to continue to work for Collin County. My bailiff, and every Sheriff's deputy, can earn more working for the Plano or Frisco Police Department than by working for the County. And our assistant district attorneys can obviously earn more in private practice. The retirement package is critical to keeping these high quality employees on board with the County.
In conclusion, we have established a high quality criminal justice system that has made Collin County a very safe place to live. Reducing our employees' benefits sends the wrong message about our priorities.
Judge, 366th District Court
Collin County, Texas
And from Justice of the Peace Judge Terry Douglas
I am truly disappointed in our County Judge and his push to take away your retirement benefits and to hack away at your insurance benefits.
I am one elected official that understands that you went to work for the benefits that County provided. We all know that it was not for the pay. I for one know that the benefits are what keep quality people in the County in order to better serve our citizens.
When I first applied to Collin County in 1979, I was actually offered a choice between Plano PD and Collin County . I obviously took the lower paying job with Collin County . I started work for Collin County for $880.00 a month, but the County benefits appeared to be better at the time. I know that you too have the qualifications to do the same job at a better paying City government job or with the private sector. If the County Judge gets his way it will destroy not only the morale of the county, but it will destroy the service that we supply to the citizens because our qualified people will seek employment elsewhere.
I am very proud of the job that each of you does and I am sorry that you have become the pawns of what appears to be a political agenda. Just remember that our only voice against radical politics is our vote. Always vote that’s one thing they can’t take away from you.
May God Bless the Employees of Collin County , Texas
From Sheriff Terry Box:
A Message From Sheriff Box
Posted on August 24, 2010
I would encourage everyone to attend the public hearing on the 30th at 6:30PM at the Central Jury room and let your opinions be known. I will be there speaking my opinion about how our County Judge is completely using the calculations in an improper manner.
You have to fill out a card to be able to speak at the hearing I would encourage someone to go by the 4th floor Comm. Courts and get several cards or make a copy and have them filled out before the meeting, this will save a lot of time. Your can write your thoughts on the card to be read in Court or you can say you want to address the Court.
You have the right theme we have to stay competitive with our local Police Depts. I am asking all department heads and employees to be at these meeting to make their wishes and opinion known.
from David Smith, Democratic Party candidate for County Judge:
I will address retirement funding. I have walked the walk in this area before. I will be able to address this in a responsible manner from both fiduciary and employee morale perspectives.
The incumbent's recent foray into this is irresponsible for several reasons.
1. He is proceeding with partial information and disinformation.
2. He is proceeding in a manner that is sharply alienating county employees.
3. His conduct appears to be designed to give him a good election issue rather than actual cost reduction.
Although in office for 3 1/2 years, the incumbent apparently came across some information about the county employees retirement program a few weeks ago. He sent some disinformation out about it that was designed to be sensational and inflammatory. He made proposals which were unlawful, demonstrating his lack of knowledge.
In doing this, he also blindsided his employees. Worse, he is rallying his supporters to speak out against employees.
And, while maybe getting what he feels is good press among his supporters, he has been ineffective in implementing his recommendations. Virtually every budget proposal he unveiled a few weeks ago has met one of two fates:
A) Defeated by the full Commissioners Court on 2-3 votes
B) Withdrawn due to being clearly unlawful or unfounded
If you want to implement major changes in a retirement plan as part of an annual budget cycle, objective information about the plan should be circulated, discussed and understood by the decision-makers months in advance. You also need to look at retirement benefits and costs in the context of total compensation and costs. And you need to look at not only your own operation but also the operations of those with whom you compete for employees.
(By the way, a good time to start looking at funding for the retirement plan would have been in 2008, when the economy tanked. Why no interest until now?)
Also, you also need to engage your employees. All of them may or may not ultimately agree on a course of action, but they need to understand what you are doing and why.
Most county services are dependent on people for their delivery. The ability to retain good people and maintain good morale is absolutely essential.
If you are going to successfully implement a compensation change, you need buy-in or a good understanding not only from employees but also from those responsible for the operations (other elected officials and department heads) and the other decision makers (other members of the commissioners court).
Someone recently wrote me to succinctly describe the incumbent's conduct and his reaction:
"I am a Republican but this is political grandstanding for the upcoming election. . . . When your signs are ready, I want one."
Walking the Walk - General Motors and local public sector
In the 80's, I was part of the EDS management team that moved thousands of General Motors information technology workers from a financially unsustainable compensation and benefits package to an EDS package more like the rest of the private sector.
In the 90's, I was part of a two member Finance Committee and eight member City Council that made adjustments to City of Plano employee compensation and benefits to improve city finances while retaining high employee morale and first-class government services.
In the current day, I am prepared to work with all concerned to successfully make any and all needed changes to county employee compensation and benefits, again to improve public finances while retaining high employee morale and first-class government services.
The incumbent does not appear to demonstrate comparable knowledge, experience or commitment.
A few notes about the county employees retirement system in response to the prior disinformation:
First, it should be understood that we are talking about a state retirement system in which county employees participate (not a county retirement system). The commissioners court does have discretion over the employer contribution to employee accounts in that system. Other aspects of the system are set by state law. As the incumbent quickly learned a couple of weeks ago, the county does not have the discretion to replace it with something else nor make other changes. County officials can ask state legislators to make changes. But, if this was not the subject of an interim study, major change is not likely in the coming state legislative session. Certainly, major change cannot take place in the current Collin County budget sessions.
Second, if you look at the system, you may find it is not actually mathematically doomed to failure, etc. See http://www.collincountybuzz.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=632:collin-county-retirement-facts&catid=85:local-news&Itemid=197 for an excellent article written by Commissioner Joe Jaynes.
In any case, I look forward to examining all aspects of county employee compensation and benefits, again, all with the objective of improving public finances while retaining high employee morale and first-class government services.
And a note about maintaining employee morale:
Disappointingly absent from the recent budget sessions was discussion of cost reductions other than employee compensation and benefits. There was no talk of things such as more paperless filing or home confinement with ankle bracelets (instead of jail confinement), all of which can save taxpayer dollars.
You need employee support and, better, employee initiative to implement such things. The incumbent is apparently not welcoming this.
David M. Smith
Candidate for Collin County Judge
and finally from the "unofficial" Collin County Deputies Association website:
In Defense of Keith Self…
Posted on August 22, 2010
The following is a reader contributed article:
In Defense of Keith Self:
There have been a lot of questions posed to Keith Self regarding how he calculated that 40% of Collin County employees would earn $100,000+ in retirement. Self has stated that this information comes directly from TCDRS, and he is correct it does. If you go to TCDRS.org the homepage has a simple calculator to determine your potential future salary in retirement. According to the website if you start at $49,000/year as a Deputy for Collin County and work for 25 years, then your potential future salary in retirement would be right around $130,000. Well there you have it, Self was correct! It is all right there on the internet.
And now for the rest of the story….
Keep in mind that a financial model is only as accurate as the assumptions used to create it. What Self failed to check were the assumptions. This model on the TCDRS homepage is based on a 5% salary increase annually! At 5% increase/year after 25 years a Deputy would be earning $169,000/year in salary. Obviously, with salary increases like this one’s retirement account would get quite large. As far as I know, no employee of Collin County is receiving 5% annual increases in salary.
Like many before him Self simply fell victim to what he read on the internet without checking his facts. It happens all the time. On another note, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona that would be perfect for Mr. Self if he is interested in buying. I have it listed on Craigslist right now.
The Great Shell Game
Posted on August 28, 2010
On August 18, Judge Keith Self stated on his Facebook page “Yesterday, with our county unemployment rate near 8%, making jobs the #1 issue for our citizens, a majority of the Commissioners Court stood with the taxpayer.” Judge Self felt that lowering matching county retirement contributions, increasing employee medical costs and lowering the tax rate would make Collin Count competitive for businesses looking to relocate.
The tax reduction agreement was August 17. On August 11, the Collin County Business Press published an article stating “The booming North Texas area was home to six of the top 25 cities posting population gains during the past year, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates released June 22.” This was published 6 days prior to the vote and was released by the U.S. Census Bureau on June 22, nearly two months earlier.
Where is the panic Judge Self speaks of?
Could it be that these people are moving to Collin County because of the beautiful mountains, white sandy beaches, lush rain forest or Plano’s popular River Walk? Or, could it possibly be that they are moving here because of the explosive job growth created by businesses relocating here, to Collin County, because of the already existing low cost of doing business?
Collin County’s own website states that “People are moving here. Businesses are moving here. And they’re all staying.” What’s happening with the foreclosure rate in Collin County? According to recently published report, it’s down 1% compared to an increase of 3% in the rest of the FW area.
In November, County Judge Keith Self gave this 18-page presentation – Collin County: Still First in Growth — at the 2009 State of the Community. Key words, “First in Growth”. It was a very impressive presentation, honestly.
In response to the one quarter of a cent tax decrease, Keith Self told the Star Local “the decrease will make business look to the county.”
So Keith Self is now taking credit for businesses relocating to Collin County? Was Collin County not doing a pretty good job before he stepped in to save the day?
In an August 11, 2010 article by the Collin County Business Press entitled Pro-business attitude leads to growth, they state “Businesses are always looking to find the low-cost areas to do business, and Collin County always comes out on top.”
Apparently, businesses already thought Collin County was a pretty good place to relocate to before Self’s worthless tax cut, which by the way, will be felt more by losing $25 million in infrastructure dollars than the measly $5.50 savings passed on taxpayers.
I’m sorry, I just don’t, and cannot, buy in to Judge Self’s misguided assessment that this county is in dire circumstances. He has provide virtually no data to support his rhetoric and judging from his confusion of the TCDRS retirement data, I’m not wholly confident in his ability to interpret economic and growth indicators. Future blunders may end up costing this county dearly, just as the current one is bound to do.
It appears that Self is playing a shell game for political purposes. Cut government fat on one hand, and cut taxes with the other. It makes it appear that he saved the county money in both categories but it’s really a wash. The county may be saving by reducing matching retirement funds, but it also loses much needed funds by cutting the tax rate. You can’t spend what you don’t have. In reality, citizens lose because less roads can be built, and county employees lose because they lose a portion of their retirement. It will, however, look pretty spiffy in campaign pamphlets.
Judge Self needs to be held accountable for his decisions that affect not only county employees, but the county as a whole. He may have been a good soldier, but his ability to lead a county is suspect at best. Fortunately, we have three out of four commissioners who can think on their own and who have the best interest of this county, and it’s future, at heart.
Last week, the Collin County Commissioners Court held an evening meeting. The quarterly evening meetings are an experiment by the commissioners in opening up the county government to citizen interest and involvement.
Some of the evening meetings have been well attended, because the commissioners scheduled important public hearings or discussions for those nights.
Not so last week. The court's agenda was little more than routine consent items. In fact the court session lasted less than 10 minutes from invocation to adjournment - the shortest regular court meeting I remember seeing.
In a plus for the county's open government initiative, only one citizen showed up to watch the non-meeting. I understand that afterwards, Commissioner Jaynes bought the intrepid citizen a cup of coffee, hoping that would help make the trip to Bloomdale Rd. at least a little worthwhile.
This week, the court was back on its regular schedule of meeting at 9:30 AM when only retirees and the unemployed are not busy working. This week's agenda was chock full of items that would have really made the evening meeting interesting.
First came the theater.
During the public comments, a Mr. Hostetler and our well known Karl Voightsberger used the comments section to solicit the court's interest in buying what's known as "Life Settlement funds" to increase the yield on the county's retirement funds.
With Life Settlement Funds, investors pay sick, elderly people cash today in return for the money from their life insurance when they die. The sooner they die, the more the investor makes.
Ghoulish, yes... and I didn't miss the irony of funding retiree pay by betting that other old folks will die soon.
During the presentation of employee awards, District Clerk Hannah Kunkle presented a 15 year pin to her deputy Amy Mathis. The Observer's readers will remember that Ms. Mathis is under felony indictment for racketeering and theft by a public servant.
This author is astounded at the attitude Hannah Kunkle and the Commissioners Court. The indictment of Ms. Mathis, Patricia Crigger and 4 other deputy clerks has brought shame to our courthouse. All these indicted ladies are still supervising workers in the District Clerk's office -- acting as if nothing is wrong.
Instead of putting these ladies, who a Grand Jury has charged with the commission of multiple felonies and are out of jail on bonds out of sight, the county gives one of them an award. Wow!
If this is how we want to run our courthouse, perhaps the Texas Rangers need to put the Collin County courthouse on a monthly raid schedule.
Later in the meeting, by a vote of 4-1, the commissioners court approved the continuation of the Vote Center experiment for the November gubernatorial election. Commissioner Jaynes voted 'no' saying he had concerns that the Vote Center plan had not matured into the successful "big box" model used elsewhere.
Commissioners Jaynes and Shaheen asked Elections Administrator Sharon Rowe to consider opening an additional early voting location in Frisco and west Allen.
Jaynes also asked that the west McKinney early voting site be moved to a more convenient location.
Judge Self then gave his budget presentation.... the Observer will write more on this in the next day or so.
Collin County's proposed fiscal year 2011 budget will be released his week. On Monday morning, County Judge Keith Self will brief the commissioners court on three key proposals incorporated into his budget plan:
- First, is to begin the process of redefining retirement benefits.
- Second, is to begin restructuring employee and retiree health benefits.
- Third, is to reduce the size of the District Clerk's staff.
Collin County participates in the Texas County and District Retirement System -(TCDRS), which is a retirement and disability pension system for county employees in the State of Texas.
TCDRS is a retirement system begun by the Texas Legislature in 1967. It covers county and district employees statewide. Currently all but 2 tiny panhandle counties (Foard County, pop. 1,622 and Motley County, pop. 1,4266) are members of the TCDRS system. Many districts created by the legislature, such as the Collin County Central Appraisal District are also members of TCDRS.
Collin County employees contribute 7% of their wages into the TCDRS and the county matches at 250%. Most local counties match at a lower rate. For example, Dallas County offers a 200% match, and Denton county, 220%.
County Match percentage Bexar 200% Collin 250% Collin CAD 250% Dallas 200% Denton 220% Ellis 225% Fannin 200% Grayson 225% Hunt 200% Kaufamn 200% McLennan 250% Montgomery 250% Navarro 175% Tarrant 200% Travis 225% Williamson 250%
The county also offers an optional deferred compensation (Section 457) plan which allows employees to defer taxes on their contributions. The county does not offer any match in the Section 457 plan.
Self charges that under the present plan over 42% of current employees will retire with incomes in excess of $100,000. He also alleges that 500 employees will retire with benefits higher than their salary.
Self also notes that the TCDRS system is an "unfunded liability". Unlike private sector 401(k) plans that require employer matches to be fully funded, the TCDRS merely accrues the match and interest to be paid as monthly benefits.
Judge Self points out that between retirement and medical benefits, unfunded liabilities are approaching $83 million.
Judge Self is proposing that the current TCDRS be scrapped and that it be replaced by an expanded Section 457 plan and with a 401(a) plan that would allow matching above the 457 limitations.
In an email Judge Self sent to his supporters, he explains his goals:
Critics of Judge Self's plan point out that every county in Texas (except 2) are members of the TCDRS and that the 250% match is a Collin County decision. There is no reason to act like a lone wolf and go it alone, when simple changes, such as adjusting the employer percentage match to more closely agree with surrounding counties.
The critics also note that Collin County is not competing against private industry for its most critical (especially law enforcement) workers, but must compete with neighboring cities and counties for Sheriff's and Constable's deputies and prosecutors. Lowering the benefits package for these individuals below that of our neighbors will make retention of top-quality, experienced officers and recruitment of new officers more difficult.
The Collin County Observer has covered Commissioner Joe Jaynes proposed changes to the employee medical benefits plans.
Judge Self wants to go further - As he says in his presentation,
Currently the 'employee only' cost to employees for the "Premium Plan" is $35 per month. The average for government agencies in the region is $48/month. Jaynes' plan would raise the premium to $50/month.
The Mercer average employee premium that Judge Self wants to attain is $98/month, or a 280% hike in employee cost.
Self also wants to move the retiree medical benefits towards a medigap plan that would supplement, not replace Medicare.
Probably sensing a weakness, Judge Self will propose a dramatic cut back in the staff of the beleaguered District Clerk.
In his justification, Judge Self notes that while the District Courts and County Courts at Law have similar caseloads, the County Clerk only staffs 2 clerks per court, while the District Clerk requires three.
Self will also recommend closing the County's Passport Office. Calling it a "non-core function", he notes that the office made a $13,261 profit in FY 2009, but that renting out the office space would offset the loss of revenue. Self points out that there are 8 other locations in Collin County that can process passports.
In 2005, the county refused to renew the lease of a passport expediting service that was in the same building as the county's Passport Office. In forcing that small, private company out of business, the court claimed that having two passport operations in the same building "confused the citizens" and the business was, in effect, competing with the county's operation.
Self would also close, as another "non-core function" the county's Substance Abuse Office. Self claims that the office does not offer any services other than referral, and that the money could be channeled into "another established program", without stating what that program would be.
Judge Self is expected to point out to the commissioners that the county's expenses and debt have outpaced the growth in revenue and population. He has not stated how much he thinks the county should invest in future growth rather than simply reacting to increased population only after that population has resulted in more revenue. This, critics charge, is the real weakness in Judge Self's approach to limiting the growth of county government. Planning for growth requires investment in infrastructure they say, and investment implies debt in the form of bonds.
Self will present his proposals at the Commissioners Court meeting tomorrow. The court will meet at the Jack Hatchell Administration Building, 2300 Bloomdale Rd. in McKinney. The meeting begins at 9:30 AM and public comments are welcome.
- Keith Self's budget presentation, August, 2010
- Commissioner Jayne's budget presentation on employee health plans, July, 2010
- Large cuts to District Clerk budget to be proposed, CCO, August 5,2010
- Jaynes proposes employee medical plan savings, CCO, August 2, 2010
- County budget shortfall eases - hiring freeze lifted, CCO, July 27, 2010
- District Judges,staff solve Collin County Budget crises??, CCO, July 14, 2010
- Texas County and District Retirement System's homepage
- Collin County employee benefits homepage
The Collin County Observer has learned that County Judge Keith Self's preliminary 2011 budget that will be presented to the Commissioners Court next week will slash the number of personnel in the district clerk's office.
The current FY 2010 budget authorizes Hannah Kunkle's District Clerk office to have 63 employees. The proposed budget cuts 9 Deputy District Clerks and close the passport office, thereby eliminating another 4 positions.
Since the county wide goal of the 2011 budget is no growth, the cut of 13 positions from the District Clerk's office is seen as a reaction to the raid on the District Clerk's office by Texas Rangers last June, and the subsequent indictment of the Chief Deputy and District Clerk elect, Patricia Crigger along with 5 other deputy clerks.
In documents filed with the court, the Collin County DA charges that over a five month period early this year, employees of the District Clerk's office took over 230 hours of illegal paid time off that was authorized by supervisors who falsified time sheets and other systems. Much of this time off was to reimburse employees for taking paid leave to work on Crigger's campaign.
Reacting to the raid, one commissioner told Kunkle, "it appears to me that your office is over-staffed".
The proposed budget
will likely be presented to the Commissioners Court on Monday, with budget workshops beginning on August 16. After the workshops, the Commissioners Court will schedule 2 public hearings before final adoption of the 2011 Budget. Until final adoption, any proposal could be changed by a majority of the court.
Documents filed by Texas Ranger A.P. Davidson in order to get the search warrant for the court house allege that Kunkle has maintained a double set of books for over 20 years, granting employees "Free Time" extra holidays, such as "Shopping Day", "Spring Day", Hannah's Freebie", and "Birth Day".
Experts this author has talked to differ as to whether Kunkle had the legal authority to grant paid time off in violation of county policies. Most agree that the legality of the "Free Time" program is a separate issue from falsifying time sheets in order to hide the "Free Time" grants.
The "Free Time" system appears to have grown into a "Blue Book" system of gaining extra paid time off during Crigger's campaign. In a five month period earlier this year, investigators were able track 169 hours being logged into the blue book for 20 employees who worked on the Crigger campaign.
On occasion, Kunkle's "Free Time" would overlap with Crigger's "Blue Book".
Investigators uncovered one such incident where they allege Marcia Simpson used "Blue Book" time to travel during business hours and on the clock with Hannah Kunkle to the Choctaw Casino in Oklahoma.
In all, over the 5 months that were investigated, 56 of the department's 63 employees were the beneficiaries of alleged illegal time entries that promised them a total of 234 additional paid days off for campaigning, "Blue Book" and "Free Time".
I received a call from Monika Arris,the county's budget director who pointed out an error in this article.
The recommended budget will not be presented at the August 9th Commissioners Court, but will be made available on the web at some point next week.
The Observer regrets the error.
- Collin County Fiscal Year 2010 Adopted Budget
- Affidavit for Search Warrant, signed by Texas Ranger Sergeant A.P. Davidson, June 1, 2010
- "Notice of Overt Acts of the Combination", Greg Davis, First Assistant Collin County DA, Texas v. Crigger, 401st District Court
District Clerk employees alleged to have earned paid days off for working on Crigger Campaign
|Littrell, Rebecca (indicted)|
|Bell, Sherry (indicted)|
|Mathis, Amy (indicted)|
|Simpson, Marcia (indicted)|
|Robertson, Lorrie (indicted)|
Supervisors alledged to have falsified employee time records
|Littrell, Rebecca (indicted)|
|Crigger, Patricia (indicted)|
|Bell, Sherry (indicted)|
|Robertson, Lorrie (indicted)|
City of Frisco proposes property tax rate increase
August 04, 2010
Valerie Wigglesworth/The Dallas Morning News Frisco Blog
The city of Frisco is considering a property tax rate increase due to declining property values.
The city's rate of 46.5 cents would increase to 47.76 cents under the proposed 2011 budget. City Manager George Purefoy said the increase of 1.26 cents would go entirely toward paying debt and not be used for the city's maintenance and operations. The proposed increase amounts to an extra $31.50 a year for the owner of a home valued at $250,000.
Assistant city manager Nell Lange said existing property values declined by 4.3 percent, much of that being in the city's commercial sector. A special fund that sets aside revenues from property taxes in a square mile around Stonebriar Centre mall for public projects, for example, lost about $60 million in value compared with last year, Lange said.
Council members received a brief summary of the budget proposal on Wednesday and will get copies of the full budget on Monday. Public hearings on the budget are scheduled for Aug. 17 and Sept. 7.
Last year, the city manager's office proposed no property tax increase. But council members decided 4-3 to increase the property tax rate by 1.5 cents to fill 17 key vacancies and take less from the city's savings.
Earlier this summer, Frisco ISD announced it would increase its property tax rate by 3 cents, pushing the overall tax rate to $1.42 per $100 assessed valuation for the next school year. This represents a 2 percent jump, or about $75, for owners of a home valued at $250,000.
Several members of the Commissioners Court have made it clear that they want to take a hard look at county employee benefits this year. County Judge Keith Self and Commissioner Matt Shaheen both have stated on several occasions that they thought that the county plans should come closer to mirroring those offered in private industry. Commissioner Hoagland has lately railed about the county subsidizing premiums for employees' family members.
The Jaynes plan.
(Click image for full presentation)
The Commissioners Court has also stated its concern over the growth of "unfunded liabilities". These are payments due in the future, mostly for retirement benefits. Estimates of the scale of these future unfunded liabilities range from $40 - $80 million.
At last Monday's court, Commissioner Joe Jaynes offered some ideas to reduce the county's liability for current employees medical plans. His plan would move the county more in line with the median plans offered by other government bodies in Texas.
Currently, the county offers two plans to its employees and their families. The "Regular Plan" costs an employee $10 per month and up to $200/month for family coverage. The "Premium Plan" costs $35/month for the employee only and rises to $290/month for families.
Collin County's employee paid premiums range close to the lower third of comparable government plans in Texas.
Commissioner Jaynes plan would raise employee premiums a modest amount -- from $10 to $40 per month depending on the coverage and family. The premium increases will, in Jaynes words, "more closely align Collin County to the averages and save approximately $375,000" per year.
Jaynes also proposes:
- Raising deductibles by $250/yr thereby saving the county $425,000/yr.
- Eliminate all "Out of Network" benefits for a savings of $500,000.
- End all coverage for any dependent who is covered by another plan. This would save the county an estimated $300,000.
- Increase copays for specialists in Premium Plan by $10 for an annual savings of $400,000.
The total savings in the 2011 budget would be about $2 million.
Commissioner Jaynes reminded the court that the county had some employees who are, "bringing home less than $400 per week." He offered these changes as the least expensive alternative to large employee premium hikes. Jaynes will also ask the court to increase the "Pay for Performance" pay increases to 1.5% to help cushion the effect of the increase in medical insurance costs.
Commissioner Jaynes also spoke about the medical benefits offered to retirees. Currently the retirees get the same plans as employees, resulting in huge unfunded liabilities. Commissioner Jaynes reminded the court that when the retirement plans were first set up, the intent of the Commissioners Court was that Medicare be the primary insurance with the county supplying a "medi-gap" policy to extend the basic Medicare coverage. Jaynes proposed that the county look to returning to that model. In the meantime, he proposed that retiree premiums rise with the employee premiums.
The discussions on employee health benefits are part of the discussions leading up to the 2011 Budget meetings, slated to begin this week or next. (Although no budget meetings are presently scheduled on the county's website)
There will be more preliminary budget discussions at the Commissioners Court meeting tonight. The court is meeting at 6:00 PM in the Jack Hatchell Administrative Building, 2300 Bloomdale Rd. in McKinney.
The meeting is open to the public. Public comments are welcome and are usually allowed at the beginning of the meeting.
The museum is housed in the restored historic former home of John Thorton, who was born into a sharecroppers life, but who later became a successful businessman. The museum has spent over $400,000 in restoring the old Thorton home and in setting it up as a museum of African American life in Plano.
Last year PAAM received $145,000 from Plano's Heritage Commission. It also raised another $125,000 from other granting foundations. This year, the PAAM has asked for an additional $245,000.
In the interest of furthering public debate, The Collin County Observer asked for and received permission from Mr. Nichols to publish his letter to the commission. The Observer then asked the Board of the Plano African American Museum to respond.
Printed below are the unedited texts of both sides of the discussion; Mr. Nichols letter and the PAAM Board's reply.
July 21, 2010
c/o Mrs. Liz Casso Hersch
Heritage Preservation Officer
City of Plano
1520 Avenue K
Plano, Texas 75074
Re: Public Comment on FY 2011 Heritage Preservation Grants
Dear Chairman Chaput, Vice Chairwoman Quaintance-Howard, and Commissioners:
I am writing to submit my comments to the Commission on the FY2011 Heritage Preservation Grant applications which you will consider on July 20-21, 2010. I regret that I cannot appear before you in person, but I hope you’ll consider my comments and concerns.
As a former member and chair of the Commission, I know that a difficult task lies before you. Indeed hundreds of thousands of public dollars, and best way in which to use those dollars to promote heritage tourism in Plano, rests upon your discretion and judgment. So, first, I want to thank you for your service to the city and for your dedication to this difficult process.
I am writing specifically about the application for more than $245,000 from the Plano African American Museum (“PAAM”). As a Plano taxpayer I have significant concerns about PAAM’s requests, and I have outlined my concerns below:
Repeated Failure to Abide by Heritage Preservation Ordinances
On November 30, 2004, at my first meeting to sit on the Commission, we considered an application by PAAM for a certificate of appropriateness (“CA”) for a new roof on the Thornton House. Notably, the roof was already installed before PAAM applied for a CA. The Commission and staff chastised PAAM for its disregard for the CA process, and PAAM’s leadership assured the Commission that it would comply in the future.
It’s important to note that, while the membership of the Commission has changed since 2004, the leadership of PAAM has not changed since that time.
And recently, as you are likely aware, in October 2009 the Commission was again asked to approve an after-the-fact CA for a granite sign which had already been installed. The leadership of PAAM, alleging an oversight, blatantly failed to comply with the CA requirements – again. It is hard for me to believe that one can “accidentally” forget about the CA process twice in a five year period, particularly with such large projects as a roof and a granite sign.
It is my opinion that the leadership of PAAM either refuses to learn, or more likely, refuses to comply with the basic Commission procedures which are imposed upon every other business, resident, and
organization in a historic district or historically designated structure. PAAM’s persistent disregard of heritage preservation ordinances should be taken into account when making this year’s grant funding recommendations; especially since the other applicants consistently adhere to basic rules and ought to be rewarded for their strict compliance with same.
Failure to Meet the Objective of Promoting Heritage Tourism
I’d ask the Commission to keep in mind that the heritage preservation grants have a primary goal – to increase heritage tourism in the city of Plano, thereby sustaining our city’s tax base. And, while there are other objectives ancillary to the tourism mandate, the main objective should be the promotion of heritage tourism. PAAM fails to meet this goal.
First, PAAM doesn’t provide any substantive information to the public or to prospective visitors. For example, its Website is defunct. There isn’t as much as a phone number on PAAM’s Website. The “Gallery” page consists of a single picture of the Thornton House, and other pictures from the Douglass Community Art Wall, which was not a project associated with PAAM. The “Events” page lists only a November 2009 “Holiday Fun Run,” which was not funded through heritage grants and doesn’t relate to the museum or the Thornton House. Its “Community” page is listed as being under construction. The “Exhibits” isn’t functional, and the “Home Page” provides only basic narrative. PAAM’s Website does not list any hours of operation, directions to the museum, or even a phone number or address. In this sense, PAAM is failing to take even basic, and free, steps to promote tourism.
Secondly, PAAM has failed to carry out even non-Thornton House events which would promote tourism. You’ll note that for FY2011 PAAM has requested $20,000 for an “Underground Railroad Symposium.” However, also note that for FY2010, this body granted $10,000 for the exact same symposium, which was supposed to occur in the spring of 2010, but never happened! And now, PAAM is asking for twice the money for an event it failed to host when it was funded last year, and has provided no evidence as to why the symposium would now cost twice as much as its previous request or how the previously granted funds were spent.
It seems to me like PAAM consistently bites off more than it can chew. You’ll hear sound bites like “a museum without walls,” an “all volunteer board,” and being “open for business,” but the fact of the matter is that other organizations in Plano are holding truly regular hours of operation, providing ample information for an interested public, and have a clear scope of their mission and function – all for equal or less than the money PAAM seeks!
PAAM Continues to Increase Funding Requests Without Increasing Return
In recent years PAAM’s funding requests have begun to rival those of the Heritage Farmstead Museum and the Plano Conservancy. But, as I’m sure you’ll note, PAAM hasn’t nearly the public presence or reputation as the other two largest heritage organizations in Plano. And, while I’m not asserting that Plano’s heritage should be limited to only two main organizations, I would argue that if an organization is going to ask for the similar amounts of money as the “big boys,” then it should plan on providing the same level of service. PAAM doesn’t. While much younger than the Heritage Farmstead, PAAM’s only a year younger than the Interurban Railway Museum, and both the Farmstead and the Interurban have concrete, established, and functioning programs which absolutely dwarf, in size and scope, the much smaller PAAM – but who is requesting the same dollars.
In 2007 PAAM asked this body for $79,000 dollars and suggested that it would do everything in its power to open its doors soon, but no dates were given. Out of frustration with the history of slow progress by PAAM, this body recommended a funding level of $20,000. It was my job then, as it will be Chairman Chaput’s job, to present the Commission’s recommendations to City Council. PAAM showed up at the budget hearing to complain, but this time, just two months after the Commission had met, PAAM had refined its budget request to a more modest $49,000 for the same projects and PAAM promised a firm open date of October 1, 2008. That date came and went, and PAAM still wasn’t open for business.
Plano is facing extraordinary budget challenges. And while I realize that, per the ordinance, hotel/motel tax revenue cannot be diverted to the general fund, it is essential that the Commission do its part to ensure that every dollar being spent on for heritage preservation is likely to bring folks to Plano to shop, eat, visit, and stay. It is my opinion that, of all the applicants, PAAM is in the furthest position to positively affect tourism in Plano – especially given its exorbitant monetary requests which have not yielded any proportional return in the past.
PAAM’s Historical and Continued Lack of Fiscal Responsibility
PAAM typically fails to meet quarterly reporting deadlines at least once per year. These reports may be cumbersome upon recipients, but they are a necessary step to ensure the Commission’s goals are being met and that recipients are doing as they promised. Much can be inferred about PAAM’s respect for the grant process by its regular failure to make timely reports.
Also, as the minutes reflect, many Commission members, past and present, have repeatedly exhibited frustration with the lack of timeliness in completing funded projects. It seems that, while commissioners consistently request more timely completion of funded projects, PAAM only offers endless explanations and excuses, which at the end of the day, doesn’t change the long history of not completing projects on time, if at all.
Thirdly, PAAM has failed to provide the Commission with a certified audit which is required of all other grant applicants. While PAAM has offered unrelated memos from city staff, the requirement for applicants is clear – a certified audit must be submitted – period. Yet again, PAAM appears to be asking for special treatment and, in effect a waiver, from the Commission on important financial control procedures. I would urge the Commission not to excuse PAAM.
Fourthly, I continue to be disappointed by the lack of non-city funds procured by PAAM. While we can talk about the cancellation of past debts (i.e. mortgages), the Heritage Commission has never been asked to service debts used for the purchase of land. PAAM’s funding requests continue to increase and are not offset by sources outside city funds. As you’re likely aware, a key element of each application is how much of an applicant’s funding comes from the, as well as the length of time on which an applicant has relied on city funds. The trend suggest that the newer an organization, the more likely the Commission is willing to accept more reliance on city funds. But the expectation has always been clear: as they age, applicants need to become less sufficient on city monies. This has categorically not been the case for PAAM, and I feel that continued funding by the city only perpetuates PAAM’s reliance on same.
Finally, the projects for which PAAM has applied for funding this year lack any specificity, and it appears that PAAM’s leadership is content with explaining tens of thousands of dollars of requests under the broad descriptions of “operational” and “service specific.” Surely PAAM could have provided more details to aid the Commission in making a more educated decision. PAAM’s lack of transparency in this grant application, like its other applications, raises many concerns about exactly how money has and will be spent.
Commissioners, I want to assure you that this was a difficult and unpleasant letter to write. I take no pleasure in highlighting the shortcomings of an organization that started with a well-intentioned and ambitious mission. But, these are tough times, and no application should receive a less stringent review, be granted an unwarranted exception, or served with an uneven hand when dolling out public funds.
I urge the Commission to refrain from recommending funding for anything except what is necessary to keep the power and water on at the Thornton House, and to ensure its security. I feel that any additional funds sought by PAAM should be pursued directly from City Council, and should be made to compete with the rest of the city’s budget challenges.
I thank you for your service to our city, and for your consideration of my thoughts.
JUSTIN P. NICHOLS
And the statement of the Board of The Plano African American Museum:
July 27, 2010
Mr. Bill Baumbach
Collin County Observer
Re: Response to July 20, 2010 letter from Justin Nichols to City of Plano Heritage Commission concerning the Plano African American Museum
Dear Mr. Baumbach:
On Friday, July 24, 2010 you called T.J. Johnson concerning the above-referenced letter you received for your publication, the Collin County Observer, and you offered an opportunity to respond. Having reviewed Mr. Nichols’ letter, the Plano African American Museum (PAAM) Board of Directors (BOD) do appreciate the opportunity to respond to Mr. Nichols’ letter.
To our understanding, as a former member and Chair of the City’s Heritage Preservation Commission, Mr. Nichols was charged, as is subsequent Heritage Preservation Commissions, primarily with the mission and responsibility to protect and preserve every aspect of the history and heritage of the Plano community, including our diverse communities. In our view, Mr. Nichols’ letter does little, if anything, to serve this mission. If Mr. Nichols truly was concerned for this mission and, particularly PAAM’s efforts toward the mission, it would seem more logical for Mr. Nichols to first contact PAAM with his issues and concerns, with his thoughts and suggestions, including any indication of what he himself was willing to do to help. It would be more useful for Mr. Nichols to at least have visited the museum and researched his claims and concerns. Instead, we have only ever personally heard from Mr. Nichols on one occasion (outside of a formal commission meeting), which will be discussed later and he has not visited the museum, certainly not within the last four years. And, instead of acknowledging and helping PAAM to celebrate the efforts and accomplishments which have been made toward the Heritage Preservation Commission’s mission, Mr. Nichols chose to nitpick and criticize the efforts of PAAM’s BOD with mistruths (some would say lies), half –truths or distortions of the truth, inaccuracies, innuendo and negative implications.
Consequently, before we address Mr. Nichols’ broad generalizations and issues and misinformation, we must put this response and Mr. Nichol’s comments within the proper context of the facts. Most of these facts are available, as a matter of record in the minutes of the City Council or the minutes of the Heritage Preservation Commission.
- Around 2002, there were discussions and efforts to move the Thornton House to another location near 12th street and Avenue I. The Plano Conservancy, a long-time recipient of City grant funds, sought City funds, $20,000, for this purpose. However, the Thornton House was not moved and, to PAAM’s knowledge, those funds were never applied to any efforts on or for the Thornton House nor were any of these funds distributed to or on behalf of PAAM.
- In 2004, the PAAM BOD included Myrtle Hightower, John Hightower, Ben Thomas and T.J. Johnson. The Chair of the BOD was Charles Grigsby of Frisco, Texas. The PAAM BOD appointed T. J. Johnson Chair in the fall of 2004. The current BOD: T.J. Johnson, Dollie Thomas, Bob Drotman, Angela Fisher, Ron Jones.
- Between 2004-2007, Ted Peters, then Executive Director of the Heritage Farmstead Museum (HFM), a long-time recipient of City grant funds, worked closely with PAAM to restore the Thornton House and, as he had done with the restoration of HFM properties (i.e. The Young House, the Farrell-Wilson House), he used his experience and preservation knowledge to guide PAAM’s efforts to restore the Thornton House. Mr. Peters was the project manager for the restoration project.
- Between 2004-2007, Ted Peters and HFM included a request for funds for restoration of the Thornton House, as a line item in its grant applications and Ted Peters (as the project manager for the Thornton House Restoration Project and until his death), directed the application of City funds and the restoration efforts. No City funds were requested or received by HFM for any other PAAM project or program, except for Thornton House plans or restoration. A total of $88,721 was awarded to HFM and funds were applied for this purpose.
- The first City Grant award to PAAM (2008-2009) $159,798 ($98,000 for operations and maintenance, including salary, utilities and contracts and $56,798 for projects and programs – building sprinklers, oral history, museum design, Thornton House interior restoration). All projects funded were completed as planned. No funds were requested for exterior restoration since the exterior restoration was completed in the previous grant year, as planned with HFM. This was the first City grant application by the PAAM BOD and the first funds requested or received for operations and maintenance of the museum.
- The second City Grant award to PAAM (2009-2010) $145,000 ( $92,800 for operations and maintenance and $50,000 for projects and programs – museum design and an Underground Railroad Symposium).
In his letter Mr. Nichols first alleges: Repeated Failure to Abide by Heritage Preservation Ordinances. He describes two instances involving applications for certificates of appropriateness (CA) “after the fact,” one in November 2004 for the new roof for Thornton House and one in 2009 for approval of the granite museum sign. However, he does not mention the number of other PAAM applications for CA’s or the fact that in 2004 the request he describes was made to the Commission by Ted Peters on behalf of PAAM where PAAM BOD members were present in support and Mr. Peters was specifically chastised for the “after the fact” CA because of his experience with the commission as a long-time representative for HFM and because of Mr. Peter’s experiences with “after the fact” CA applications (a fact which Mr. Nichols knows because he was at the meeting). In October 2009, concerning the granite sign, PAAM board members did attend a commission meeting and offered their explanation for the “after the fact” request. The Heritage Commission approved the granite sign as appropriate.
Mr. Nichols’ next allegation was: Failure to Meet the Objective of Promoting Heritage Tourism. He alleges that PAAM fails to meet the primary goal “to increase heritage tourism in the city of Plano.” He specifically points to the PAAM website and states that PAAM has not carried out a non-Thornton House event. First, Mr. Nichols has never visited the museum or Thornton House and has no clue as to what has been accomplished by PAAM or how PAAM promotes tourism. For example, in the past year Thornton House has enjoyed a number of visitors, including youth groups, teacher groups, small and large groups. PAAM has had a number of requests from groups to tour, such as family reunions and youth groups. For further example, last year PAAM hosted a Holiday FunRun? and Family Fest on November 21, 2009 at the Oak Point Park in Plano. This was also advertised on the DART public transportation system, inviting surrounding areas to come to Plano on November 21. We have also been told repeatedly that part of the interest in Plano by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati and the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Park Service’s Underground Railroad Program is PAAM’s enthusiasm and promotion for Plano “as the place to visit.” PAAM has been selected by both organizations as affiliates, an honor and significant accomplishment, to say the least, for PAAM’s small and dynamic BOD.
Next, Mr. Nichols alleges: PAAM Continues to Increase Funding Requests Without Increasing Return. Mr. Nichols expresses concerns that PAAM’s funding requests rivals the HFM and the Plano Conservancy (we assume this reference is to the Interurban Museum), that PAAM does not have the presence or the reputation as the “big boys” and that PAAM does not have the concrete, established or functioning programs as HFM or the Plano Conservancy. As a former member of the Commission, Mr. Nichols knows this comparison is inappropriate. First, 2010 is only the third year that PAAM has requested City funds for operations and maintenance to help PAAM establish the museum at the Thornton House and only the second year that PAAM has received funds for operations and maintenance. Mr. Nichols distorts the truth as he compares PAAM to the (25+ year old) HFM and the (15+ year old) Interurban Museum since, as he is aware, the “big boys” (as Mr. Nichols describes) have very different developmental histories than PAAM. For example, the City owns the land under the HFM properties and owns land and buildings at the Interurban Museum (which is only managed and operated by the Plano Conservancy). Both organizations, under appropriate staff including Executive Directors, were primarily concerned at start-up only with maintenance, displays, exhibits, programs and projects. Unlike these organizations, PAAM, at start up (with a small volunteer BOD and no Executive Director) has had to concern itself with securing the land and buildings, including financial, structural, historical preservation and restoration, before it could focus more heavily on programs and projects. As Mr. Nichols is also aware, all City funds requested prior to 2008 by HFM for PAAM were for the Thornton House only, particularly for restoration but no funds for operations and maintenance. Mr. Nichols distorts the truth, knowing that PAAM is not “only a year younger than the Interurban Railway Museum.” Over fifteen years ago, the Interurban Museum opened its doors for business, with two fulltime staff and HFM with even more staff. Initially, for a number of years (for operations, maintenance and programs) HFM received all of the City funds earmarked for heritage preservation and subsequently Interurban shared those funds and now, for the last two years, PAAM has shared those funds but all three organizations, even today, depend on City funds for more than 85% of their operations and maintenance budgets. PAAM opened its doors with a part-time administrator, in 2008, without an Executive Director. The basic premise is this: If there had been a way to acquire sufficient funds or resources in the beginning, as the other organizations, to secure the property, in all aspects, and to hire full time personnel to recruit volunteers and seek other funding, PAAM would be further along in its development. Instead, with limited funding and resources PAAM has taken an incremental approach designed to methodically and carefully lay a solid and long-lasting foundation for PAAM to get the museum fully operational, i.e. facility first. No doubt both HFM and the Interurban Museum built their programs and offerings over time, much the same as PAAM.
Concerning the 2007 presentation before the Heritage Commission and the City Council, once again, Mr. Nichols, distorts the truth. In June 2007, just after Mr. Peters had passed away, Chuck Laenger, then Interim Executive Director for HFM and T.J. Johnson for PAAM appeared before the Heritage Commission concerning the HFM City grant application. Appearing for the presentation, were PAAM and HFM board members and Jerry Kolesiack, Habitat for Humanity/Project Manager for the Thornton House restoration project. Prior to the presentation, Mr. Nichols sent a number of messages (through others including Chuck Laenger and Dollie Thomas) to T.J. Johnson that “Ms. Johnson had better call [him] immediately or he would make sure that PAAM got nothing.” He did not directly call Ms. Johnson. When Ms. Johnson reached him and inquired of the “urgency” Ms. Nichols indicated that he wanted to visit about the presentation. There was no mention of “frustration with the history of slow progress…” Mr. Nichols did indicate that he was running for City Council and wanted to know if Ms. Johnson would support him. Ms. Johnson congratulated him on his decision to run without comment or commitment concerning any support. At Mr. Nichols’ presentation to the City Council, there was also no mention of “frustration with a history of slow progress…” and the City Council did award additional funds for the only project which HFM/PAAM had requested, the restoration of the Thornton House. Following the presentations, Mr. Nichols approached Ms. Johnson and Ms. Thomas, again reminding them that he was running for City council and hoped for their support. The ladies again congratulated Mr. Nichols without further comment or commitment to his campaign. Mr. Nichols lost his bid for City Council.
Next, Mr. Nichols alleges: PAAM’s Historical and Continued Lack of Fiscal Responsibility. He explains this claim by asserting that PAAM “typically fails to meet quarterly reporting deadlines…,” fails to timely complete funded projects, PAAM “failed to provide the Commission with a certified audit” as required of other grant applicants and PAAM has not procured non-city funding. PAAM has missed two deadlines in the two years it has received City grants, hardly typical. Instead of this broad generalization, Mr. Nichols should have identified the specific projects to which he refers. As of this date, except for the Underground Symposium I, every project for which PAAM has received City funding has been timely completed. PAAM could not host the symposium which was previously scheduled for February 2010 because PAAM did not receive City funding until February 2010 and, therefore, could not commit funds for the symposium which had not yet been received. Again, a mistruth: the City does not require a certified audit for grant applications. An applicant has the option of submitting documentation certified by a CPA, which PAAM has submitted, just as other grant applicants. Unlike other organizations which have had financial issues, PAAM has been subjected to a number of city audits resulting in memorandums of no findings. Furthermore, as of December 31, 2009, PAAM had acquired significant non-city funding and enough non-city funding to pay-off the debt for the block of property from the corner of 13th Street and Ave H to the corner of 13th Street and H Place.
We are perplexed with Mr. Nichols’ letter and the unsubstantiated claims he makes, including his suggestion that PAAM seeks some exception. We are at a loss to explain his mean-spirited, negative and, seemingly vindictive and angry approach. We cannot understand why he seems so angry with PAAM, except perhaps he felt unsupported by PAAM board members in his failed attempt at the City Council. And while we applaud and admire any citizen who seeks public office and public service, we still believe that one had nothing to do with the other. The fact is that PAAM seeks no exceptions. To the contrary, PAAM simply seeks to be treated fairly, reasonably and consistently with other organizations. PAAM’s “well-intentioned and ambitious mission” to help support heritage preservation in Plano and the surrounding area should be supported, as with other organizations. PAAM’s goal is to complement the efforts of our community of museums by encouraging the research, review, preservation and appreciation of the heritage of the diverse communities and cultures in Plano, the All-American City. At the very least, PAAM’s efforts should be applauded and encouraged and should not be disparaged as with Mr. Nichols’ mistruths, inaccuracies, half-truths and negative implications, which certainly do not serve the heritage preservation mission which Mr. Nichols, as least on one occasion, swore to uphold. PAAM serves a significant and important role in the preservation of heritage in this area and has already proven its ability to bring attention and interest in the Plano community. Certainly, it is irresponsible to base his urgings to the Commission to refrain from full support and funding for PAAM on little more than mean-spirited and negative implications, not based on fact or firsthand knowledge of PAAM or the Thornton House.
We invite you to visit the Thornton House at 900 13th street (open from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday), visit the website at www.aamplano.com and judge for yourself. Like other organizations, you will not see perfection but you will see the results of the efforts and accomplishments thus far of a small but strong and dynamic board of directors and the volunteers and staff that support them. We are always open to constructive feedback, ideas and volunteer assistance and we appreciate the opportunity to serve Plano in this very special way.
Board of Directors
Plano African American Museum
Collin County's Budget Director, Monika Arris, told the Commissioners Court Monday that the final appraised values of all properties in the county was substantially higher than projected.
The result of the higher than expected valuations mean that property tax revenue is expected to decline by about 1.5% or $2.7 million. Earlier projections had led the court to expect a tax revenue shortfall in excess of $7.5 million.
Still missing from the revenue projections are the county's estimate of 2011 fines and fees. Fines and fees, along with investment income, interest and miscellaneous income account for about 40% of the budget and in recent years have trended down.
After hearing the latest estimates, several commissioners noted that the reduced tax shortfall, combined with the District Judges, Auditor and Purchasing Agent's suggestions for reducing the budget, have eased concerns of the county not being able to balance the FY 2011 budget without draconian cuts. They then voted 4-0 to lift the hiring freeze imposed earlier this year.
The Dallas Morning News has published an article on the county budget and the certified tax roll. Ed Housewright's article does a good job comparing the county with a few of its cities. You can read the article here.
Last week, the District Judges, the County Auditor and the Purchasing agent presented 10 proposals to lower the fiscal year 2011 budget.
Proposal #3 was:
Some members of the Commissioners Court noted that the next elected District Attorney would have to agree with the idea before the court could act on it. So The Collin County Observer asked Greg Willis, the Republican nominee and Ralph de la Garza, the Democratic nominee their position.
Specifically we asked both candidates:
I am pleased that both candidates replied with thoughtful comments. Below are their complete and unedited responses. (in alphabetical order)
Rafael de la Garza II, Democratic nominee for Collin County Criminal District Attorney --
Greg Willis, Republican nominee for Collin County Criminal District Attorney --
This year Collin County, like almost all governments in the country, is facing a budget shortfall caused by declining property values and reduced income from interest, fines and other sources.
However, most agree that our county is far better off financially than most other cities, schools and counties. For one thing, property values have not fallen that much here - in fact due to reduced valuations, the typical Collin County homeowner will only see a $5.03 reduction in next year's county tax bill.
Also, the county is sitting on a huge financial reserve of over $125 million. These reserves are sufficient to fully fund the county's operations for over 200 days.
The latest figures given by the budget office show a potential shortfall somewhere between $1.2 million and $7.5 million out of an approximate $200 million budget.
Commissioner Jaynes has argued that no such drastic actions need be taken - that careful budgeting and some use of the surplus $125 million will more than insulate the county from a shortfall, while protecting public services.
But some on the Commissioners Court, believe that the county needs a dramatic cut back in expenses - and they would start with employee insurance and other benefits. Judge Keith Self and Commissioner Matt Shaheen have been leading the effort to review all benefits with the goal of reducing the county's future liabilities. (Collin County is self insured.)
Commissioner Jerry Hoagland also wants to look at the employees insurance package. At Monday evening's budget discussion, Referring to spousal and child coverage, Hoagland with his usual tactless style made an issue over the fact that Collin County taxpayers were subsidizing insurance for lots of people who, in his words, "don't even work for the county".
Joe Jaynes dryly remarked that he wasn't about to vote to kill insurance for kids.
(I will note that Mr. Hoagland is not advocating cutting benefits for retirees. Since he is retiring at the end of the year, and since his wife has already retired from county employment, the county's many retirees can rest assured that Jerry will protect their insurance package.)
Another budget item proposed for cutting is the employee "pay for performance" increases. Commissioners Jaynes, Hoagland and Ward want to protect the pay for performance program and allot a minimal (perhaps 1.5%) increase, while Self and Shaheen have indicated they are opposed to any employee raises this year.
A couple of months ago, Judge Self requested that a memo be sent to all departments asking them to not only submit "zero growth" budgets, but to also identify where cuts could be made. Joe Jaynes objected, instead he proposed that the employees themselves be given an opportunity to identify potential savings in expenses.
Both Self and Jaynes sent out their memos.
Monday night, the county's District Judges replied to Commissioner Jaynes request for suggestions. The judges, who to the best of my knowledge have never involved themselves in the county's operational budget (except as it applies to the courts) asked County Auditor Jeff May, and County Purchasing Agent Frank Ybarbo to present their plan to reduce spending by over $15 million next year, without cutting salaries, benefits, positions or services.
The County Auditor and the Purchasing Agent are hired by and report to the Judges and not the Commissioners Court.
Joe Jaynes, in his County Line newsletter lists the saving that the Judges and their staff came up with:
"Change the Budget Procedure for Contingencies - As of now we budget $6.6 million for this line item. The recommendation is to budget only $1 million and use our rainy day fund for other contingencies.
Savings: $5.6 million.
- Reduce Maintenance Contract Budgets-Our FY2010 adopted budget for maintenance was $5.46 million. However, actual expenditures in FY2009 was $2.9 million and FY2008 was $2.6 million. Our Auditor recommends that we can trim this by $2.2 million and still have a healthy line item to address any maintenance issues.
Savings: $2.2 million.
- Utilize the District Attorney's Office for Legal Advice-In FY2010 our budget line item for legal advice is $800,000. By hiring one or two attorneys in the DA's Office or, better yet, a restructuring of that office would allow the DA's Office to handle everyday legal matters for the county.
- Reduce Various Miscellaneous Accounts: Examples would be to reduce our consultant expenses, eliminate pamphlets and reduce the temporary worker salary line item. These are areas where, in most years, the funds budgeted are not fully spent.
Savings: $1.1 million
- Restructure Capital Replacement Budgeting: In FY2010 the Capital Replacement line item (furniture, etc.) is $625,000; actual expenditures in FY 2009 was $71,000 and FY 2008 was $236,000. We have a new courthouse and, thus, new furniture so this line item can be reduced.
- Reallocate Road and Bridge Tax Revenue: Our Road and Bridge fund is generating enough revenue that we can go into FY2011 without allocating any tax revenue to this fund.
Savings: $3.9 million
- Reduce Unemployment Insurance Premium line item by 75%--Due to savings from past years in our unemployment insurance fund a reduction in this area will not impact our ability to pay claims.
- Combine County Building Maintenance Departments-Each county facility has its own maintenance budget. By combining this into one budget it will bring about more efficiency.
- Reduce Cell Phone Budget: FY2010 adopted budget for cell phones is $356,000, FY2009 actual was $158,000 and year to date for FY2010 is $105,000.
- County Auditor Budget Reduction: Due to staff reorganization by our County Auditor Jeff May he is able to save taxpayer dollars.
Total Savings $15 million"
The County Auditor, Jeff May then issued the following press release:
I'd score this one Self/Shaheen- 0 and Judges/Jaynes - 1
Let the 2011 budget games begin.