Friday, December 10, 2010

Fund 196, A Page In The 'Living Document' Of The County Budget

Waco – "Bookmarked" copies of the McLennan County Commissioners Court Agenda are available only through an Open Records Act request.

County Judge Jim Lewis' office is quick to respond to requests through e-mail.

Paging through the attachments, without which the agenda is often difficult to understand, is an eyeful, to say the least.

Last Tuesday, members of the court bowed up and at first refused to make a motion to authorize transfer of funds for courthouse security because they did not understand how the transaction was authorized. According to Commissioner Lester Gibson, the fact that such duties were "passed" from the County Auditor's office to the Budget Director should be a court decision.

Judge Lewis explained that the budget is thus a "living document." He said "It changes from day to day."
The material distributed for the December 7 weekly meeting carries some revealing documents generated by the County Auditor, Steve Moore.

Mr. Moore has announced his retirement to be effective at the end of January. He has passed many of his duties to newly appointed Budget Director Adam Harry.

It seems the budget fund that concerns the Jack Harwell Detention Center – Fund 196 – requires some adjustments. Without an understanding of the procedures or the accounting system, the information is nearly incomprehensible.

But it's not quite so incomprehensible if one stops to consider that the jail just opened and the budget for paying CEC, Inc., the New Jersey firm that operates the facility, was not finalized until the 816-bed lockup began to fill with prisoners. CEC is paid $45 per day for each prisoner thus housed.

The population reportedly fills only about half the detention center's capacity at present.

Dallas and Harris Counties have executed agreements to send overflow population to the lockup on Highway 6 when their jails are overcrowded. In fact, last week's information package included a letter of agreement from the Harris County Sheriff's Department.

Here are some of the spread sheet items attached to the agenda: (One may click the images to enlarge them.)

To arrive at this transaction, the County Commissioners authorized these adjustments to the living document:

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