Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Demo up on road money parity, GOP runs backward

Brian Scott listens hard when people talk roads, bridges

“I have nothing to gain by running against the courthouse now.” - Will Jones, Republican candidate for Precinct 3 County Commissioner

Waco – Will Jones won't talk about the fact that Precinct 3 gets only 21% of road and bridge funding while Precinct 1 and 2 get 25% each and Precinct 4 gets a whopping 29%.

Brian Scott, the Democratic Party candidate for the job, will listen and he listens hard.

“I've been talking to the people around West and Lacy lakeview about this issue...This new map has actually taken away votes from West. You know, there was a map that put West with places like Axtell, where they have a lot more in common and the new areas are in place where they don't rely on county services quite as much,” said Mr. Scott.

The issue is all about parity between the precincts, which show a $27 million surplus – a monumental 20% of the total budget. It's way more than what they business managers call a prudent reserve.

Incumbent Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe Mashek did research on the state statutes governing road and bridge finance, sought attorney general's opinions, and worked hard for reapportionment of road and bridge funds left unspent. By law, once funds are slotted to the road and bridge funds, they must be spent for that purpose, but they may be reapportioned at the direction of the commissioners court. Thus challenged, the Court refused to do so.

Mr. Scott wants to address the issue with his constituents.

Mr. Jones, the Republican, does not.

“I have nothing to gain by running against the Courthouse now,” he said.

(click for a larger view of the spread sheet)


  1. OK, the little spreadsheet that is frequently presented is very flawed. Look at it this way:

    I am going shopping and I take $10 with me (my budget). I spend $9 (my expenditures). When I return home from shopping, I have $1 in my pocket.
    The next day, after I receive my daily $9 paycheck, I go shopping and I take $10 with me (my budget), but that $10 includes the $1 I had left over from yesterday. I spend $9 (my expenditures). When I return home from shopping, I have $1 in my pocket.
    This same thing continues for three more days.
    At then end of the fifth day I have only $1 left in my pocket. Using the same logic as the chart, I would have accumulated $5 - but that is a fallacy, because all I did was carry that $1 forward everyday. Each day the "total budget" included what I brought forward from the previous day plus what I received that day. One cannot add year end surpluses cumulatively, as in the chart, because they become part of the spendable budget for the next year. Continue the use of the chart if you wish, but is is not reality and therefore is a fantasy.

  2. So, what are the true figures? - The Legendary

  3. The rows in the chart are not named, but I can surmise the are supposed to represent the four R&B precincts, the R&B General Fund, the ROW Acquisition Fund and the Farm to Market Roads Fund. I am also surmising that the numbers in yellow are supposed to be the actual expenditures subtracted from the budget for each of those funds for the years indicated.

    First of all I cannot tie any of those numbers into either the adopted or preliminary budgets for those years nor the comprehensive annual financial report as those documents are presented on the County website.

    Second, please note on the adopted budgets of any fund that the numbers in column come down to a fund balance or projected fund balance that includes beginning balance, plus revenues, minus revenues to yield a ending fund balance. Note also that the first column in the adopted budgets represent the actuals from a previous year and the ending balance in that year goes forward to the next year to create the beginning balance for the next year - the columns do not, and are not intended to, add across - the compute vertically only.

    Third, if the chart is intended to an actual amount of "cash on hand" it is missing two key components. These are beginning available plus revenues received.

    An example of the real number of fund blance carried forward look at pages 109 through 115 of the 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report at

    There you will see the real audited numbers for the fund balnces of the R&B group of funds:

    R&B General 81,239
    Fm to Mkt 82,381
    ROW Acq 133,703
    Pct 1 1,479,313
    Pct 2 1,989,081
    Pct 3 868,712
    Pct 4 2,440,133

    Total 7,074,562

    $7,074,562 is the fund balance (which you can almost equate to cash on hand, excluding inventories, receivables, payables, etc.).These are the Life-to-Date balances of these funds. They already include what the fund balance was at the end of 2009 plus the revenues of 2010 less the expenditures of 2010. That $7M is what those funds had on hand to begin 2011. One would have to look up the Annual Financial Reports on the County website for other years, but its all there for eyes to see.

    I know you hold the truth in high esteem, like I do, and that is the only reason I am making you aware of these issues.

  4. Well, all righty, then. What is the surplus of unspent funds that could be reapportioned? Could you give us the total? Pretty please?

    - The Legendary

  5. With all due respect, for the Road and Bridge Funds, the number $7,074,562 IS the actual audited amount that would have been available at the end of 2010 for 2011. That number for the year ending 9/30/2011 is not yet audited or completed and therefore is not available.

    BUT, and it is a big BUT remember that the budget is aopted in late August 2010 or very early September 2010. Since September 2010 is not yet over at that point, and the actual 2010 year-end fund balances (i.e. the balances ACTUALLY available for 2011) are not precisely known until March 2011 when the outside auditors are through. The beginning available balance used in the Summer of 2010 is the actual fund balance at 9/30/2009, plus estimated total revenues for 2010 minus estimated actual expenditures for 2010. This estimated beginning balance is the best estimate the County can make. This is the same budget process used by most local governments around the nation.

    Remember the above balance is for the R&B funds only.

  6. Then, let me thank you and merry Christmas to you, Mr. Anonymous. - The Legendary

  7. Merry Christmas to you too, Sir.

  8. Anonymous said the surplus is carried over and factored into the budget someplace other than the department budget. That would explain where the money went. It does not, however, explain the annual surpluses. Joe Mashek manages to keep his around a half million while the other precincts are three times that. To put this in simple terms, say a precinct proposed a budget of $10M and the precinct had a surplus from the prior year of $2M. Do the taxpayers get a bill for $8M or $10M? Do they put the $2M in "contingencies"? The explanation by Anonymous would explain where the money went but not why one line item shows the department requested almost $2.2M more than actual expenditures from the last complete year. The graphic explains how the numbers were derived, they are the budgeted amount less actual recorded expenditures. In FY2011 budget, FY09 actual was $2.1M, FY10 2.1M but the approved budget shows a budget of $4M that is almost 50% more than actual. I am not very good at analogies. The error by Anonymous is we are talking about money taken from taxpayers.

  9. Anonymous, so based on your comments, are you saying that Joe Mashek or any other commissioner is penalized if he does not spend all of his $10 budget? Let's say a commissioner is a good steward of the county's money and spends it effeciently as he should. And let's say that due to his efficient handling of his precinct finances, that for several consecutive years, he only spent $9 of a particular $10 budget line item. But over time, for whatever reason, the "efficient" commissioner's precinct begins to bear a greater cost burden for that certain budget line item in comparison to the other commissioners. And so the "efficient" commissioner asks for an increase from $10 to $11 in the amount apportioned to his precinct for that budget line item. But regardless of the fact that the "efficient" commissioner spent less than the budgeted amount for that cost line item for several consecutive years, and regardless of the increased burden on his precinct, the court's answer will be "no"? That does not make sense.

    Signed, Anonymous #2

  10. Mr. Legendary,
    It looked like, for awhile, that you and I had a meaningful dialog going there. We could have actually arrived at numbers grounded in reality.

    It looks like your degreed (at least a Masters Degree it sounds like?) and certified forensic accountant R.S. Gates knows much more about accounting than I ever will. I guess I will just have to leave you to rely on his profound, high level of knowledge, and let him lead you on to whichever wilderness it is he leads you too. That's a damn shame since your blog has too much credibility to contain anything like Gates' analyses.


  11. Mr. Anonymous, I think the operative word here is dialogue. In my years of experience reporting on county government, this is the first and most extended such conversation I have ever witnessed regarding finance. Don't quit now. I think it's through such dialogue that we the people will arrive at new and interesting solutions to problems which have persisted for milennia - namely, to get the crops to market, the kids to school, the old and infirm to medical care, and the entire apparatus paid for in a sensible and timely fashion. Any such discussion is admirable. Please don't walk away dissatisfied; if you wish to contribute, do so - and return early and often. We will thereby arrive at numbers grounded in reality, and I could not be happier about that. The transition I see from where I sit is like coming in from the cold, from a place where any questions asked go unanswered and the interlocutor is scorned, and then arriving at a warm and safe haven where discourse is encouraged, people have concluded it is best to ask questions, and then be prepared to accept the answers. We're getting there, no doubt. It's a cultural thing, a shift in paradigm, a sea change, and one in which more is better when it comes to communication about the issues that will likely either keep us in the wilderness, or bring us into the light of a new and better way to get along. - The Legendary

  12. Ask Brian Scott some real questions ,like who is worked for and about how money was spend of taxpayers money.Like Obama and Chet.

  13. You can tell you have stepped on some toes when the issue is abandoned in favor of name calling and personal attacks. Anon did not want to confer knowledge, the objective appears to be that everyone should believe without question just because it sounds good.