Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ben Perry horse trades budget cuts – finds surplus

Plan would save DARE, eliminate tax hike

Waco – There is an axiom of horse trading carved in stone, etched in time, written on the wind. It goes like this.

Once the deal on the mule, the flivver, the plow, pony, house or farm is firming up with a trade, a price, and the expectation of an offer is in the air, whoever speaks up next is bound to lose.


It might be big or little, inconsequential or huge, but at this point, it's either deal breaker time to fiddle and whittle, snap the galluses and move the toothick from one side to the other - or handshakes all around.

Commissioner Ben Perry, the newest addition to the McLennan County Commissioners Court who replaced Ray Meadows, spoke up at just the right time in a budget work session Monday morning.

He's an insurance man now, but he was a cop earlier in his career. In both professions, a man has to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. 

He got the floor over the objections of Commissioner Lester Gibson, who had rambled for several minutes asking the same question, repetitively, “Where do you make the cuts, and still make them balance?” When County Judge Jim Lewis spoke up, interrupting him before he really got started, he said, "I'm making a point here, Judge."

Ben Perry said his calculations may be flawed, that he “may have bumped my head over the weekend,” but he kept on plowing.

When he was through, he had laid out a plan that would cancel any need for a 3-cent tax increase proposed to satisfy a statutory deadline last week. He showed the Court that he found a $600,000 General Fund surplus instead of a $3 million deficit.

The major areas include elimination during fiscal year 2013 of a $1.5 million contribution to the Econonomic Development fund. It's funded at about $6.6 million a year. Surely, they could go without that for a year. He proposed reduction of new patrol cars from 12 to 10, a move that would save the popular Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. He pointed out over spending in workers compensation, library, and a half dozen other areas that add up to about $4 million in cuts.

All this came after two rather unproductive weeks during which the 5 of them made certain proposals in dribs and drabs and wound up adding more than $200,000 in spending, rather than making any real reductions.

In fits and starts, everyone started to jabber at each other. No one blinked. The trade was on, and it was getting hungry in there.

Before they recessed for lunch, the other three commissioners vowed to get their general fund cost cutting programs together – on paper - and be back with the numbers at 1 p.m.

For a real time audio recording of the discussion, one need only click the red arrow below:

1 comment:

  1. judge lewis pulled another over perry,payroll now dare