Columns/Opinions

Thu
11
Jan

County carrying reserves forward

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

As I said in my article in late December, I expected that we would end the year with most of our general fund reserves intact, and that is what did in fact happen.  We are carrying forward $890,000 into the new year as a result of ending 2017 with total general fund revenues of $10.725 million and expenditures of $10.808 million which includes the $200,000 that we spent for the new building we built in Thorndale to house our offices there (we did this instead of financing that project).

The general fund revenues were some $450,000 (or 4.4 percent) ahead of budget and expenditures were $260,000 (or 2.2 percent) under budget (-4.2 percent if you don’t count the building which was really a capital expenditure), so budget wise we also had a good year.

Thu
04
Jan

Court makes new POSGD appointments

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

This past week in Commissioner’s Court we voted on candidates for new four-year terms on the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors. Two incumbents were voted back on unanimously to serve a second term, Sidney Youngblood as the industrial representative and Durwood Tucker as the agricultural representative.

The third opening was that of the municipal representative. That spot had been filled by Kerry Starnes of Rockdale. Starnes had been on the board since it had been formed.  There were three nominees for his replacement - Chris Whittaker, City Manager of Rockdale; Keith Kiesling, City Manager of Thorndale; and Judith McGeary who had been nominated by Cameron and Milano City Councils, all of whom received votes from commissioner’s court members with Chris Whittaker winning the nomination in the runoff vote.

Fri
08
Sep

County is planning ahead

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

One of the statements that I’ve made regarding the planning of the 2018 budget is that several of the things we’ve done are in anticipation of what might be happening to us in 2018 when we’re planning the budget for 2019 and beyond.

And what we are trying to anticipate is that we may very well be back in a mode of uncertainty with respect to the Milam County tax base, anticipating that it may again take another plunge downward like it’s done over the past several years, and we will again be in a very tight financial situation for one or more years.

If that happens, we will again be unable to grant pay increases, may be postponing maintenance, reducing personnel, and so on.

Thu
31
Aug

Milam County employees do make a difference

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

In the community meetings that I held this past two weeks, I emphasized that some 30% of the county government’s revenue comes from sources other than property taxes.  And the efforts of our county employees plays a huge role in the generation of these additional funds.

I pointed out that about half a million dollars is generated in county and district court from felony and misdemeanor case settlements were fines and fees are paid, some while the individuals are on probation.  Many county employees in the district and county judge’s offices, the county and district clerk’s offices, the DA’s office, adult probation office, sheriff’s office and Jail are involved in this effort.

Thu
10
Aug

Commissioners set county budget, tax rate

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

This year’s budgeting process has been one of making necessary adjustments as we come out of some three years of financial uncertainty caused by the substantial downward adjustment to the valuation of the Luminant property and the negative impact that the anticipated loss in revenue has had on county operations.

Thu
20
Jul

County begins 2018 budget

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

The commissioners and I have concluded meeting with each of the elected officials and department heads this past week to discuss their 2018 budget requests for their department, and now the five of us will now meet together in workshop sessions to prepare the final draft of next year’s county budget and proposed tax rate.  It will be ready for public viewing on the web site and at the county clerk’s office on Aug. 4.

Public hearings will be held in the county court room in the courthouse at 9 a.m. on Aug. 31 and Sept. 6.  I do not make presentations at these two meetings; they are scheduled in order to fulfill legal requirements to receive public comments. Last year a couple of you complained in those meetings that they were held during the day during working hours when it was difficult for working citizens to attend.

Thu
13
Jul

Texas 85th Legislature: The Ugly

By Rep. Terry Wilson

Texas House District 20

Over the last two articles, we looked at the good and the bad from the 85th Texas Legislative Session; first, how legislators from all sides came together to build a budget agreement, and then how a fight over differing political agendas brought the session to a stand-still that necessitated a special session this July. 

Now that I’ve given you the good and the bad, it’s time to face the ugly truths that set the stage for both. We have come to a place in our politics where persuasion isn’t even considered anymore, where cooperation is a dirty word, and where defeat of the opposition is the only option considered.  

One of the advantages of being a “freshman” legislator is that it enabled me to be just that, a fresh-man, one coming into this system from the outside, viewing it with fresh eyes, unaffected by its culture and history. 

Fri
30
Jun

County orders new voting equipment

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

At this week’s meeting, the Commissioner’s Court made the decision to purchase new voting equipment for the county to replace the old voting machines and tabulating equipment that had been in use for some ten or twelve years now.

Mon
12
Jun

New Thorndale building on the horizon

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

The Commissioner’s Court has taken action on a couple of items recently that I want to take time here to give you some further explanation as to why we have made these decisions. 

On May 23 we held a workshop session to discuss proposals we received from three accounting firms who had responded to our request for proposals to perform the county’s independent audit for 2016 and the two subsequent fiscal years.

Tue
06
Jun

Remember freedom is not free

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

Another Memorial Day has come and gone and again I was asked as a county official to stand on the court house square before the memorial to those Milam County citizens who died for our country and say a few words.

I always feel like I’ve got to somehow explain why. I say things like “freedom is not free,” these men died so we can remain free.  Last year I recalled the oath we all take when we enter the military or assume office wherein we swear to “defend the constitution of the United States.”

In last week’s article I commented that I would not be running for county judge again after this term due to term limits; the thought has occurred to me that a good reason for term limits is stress, like that caused by having to keep trying to answer difficult questions that always seem to come up to keep you squirming when you’re in public office.

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