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About Budget Transfers at Somervell County Commissioner Court Meetings (2022) and where to find


salon

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In previous Somervell County Commissioners Court administrations, a citizen attending the Commissioners Court meeting was given a handout that included the budget transfers. That is, when money is used from one account to pay for another, it generated a line item, like 00001 X Dept Training Seminar to 00003 General Fund. In other words, although sometimes it was a heck of a lot of moves, you could easily follow what moneys were being moved around between different accounts. The overhead system to display the agenda was put in sometime during Mike Ford's court time, and all the items were displayed for the attendees to read. At some point after Danny Chambers became judge, that practice stopped. I asked several different commissioners about it and was told that the auditor, who at that time was Brian Watts, had not finished preparing the transfers in time for them to go out with the agenda, the list was emailed to the commissioners and judge before the meeting. I further heard that Chambers was the one in charge of displaying the agenda on the overhead, and requested that this be done. To my knowledge, it has not been done so since at least 2016. Here is a post on my archive site which contains a discussion between Brian Watts and myself.  He said that he sent out the transfers via email on a Friday afternoon. I asked that the reports be made part of the agenda packet or that Mr Chambers include the budget transfers in the overhead. At the time, pre-covid, I attended a lot of meetings and this was never done.  

What is the procedure right now? Budget transfers are handed out to the commissioners at the time of the meeting, and later, sometime after the meeting, scanned in by Michelle Reynolds office to be posted on the Somervell County website as part of the minutes agenda. They are not made available via a handout to the citizen attendees, nor are they displayed on the overhead. According to Nikki Weeden, the information comes in after the agenda is posted and can be fluid during the weekend, so is only available at the time of the commissioners meeting, so not available through email. 

Why even care about this? Because the money is being transferred between multiple bank accounts now. Some years back the Enterprise Fund was created, most recently the new Assistance District account. Wouldn't you like to know, for example, what moneys from either are being transferred from any other account or even transferred within the same account? I would!  (Side note that budget transfers were how I discovered during the frivolous lawsuit brought by Andy Lucas against my hub that Andy Lucas had hired a law firm to do his work since he apparently could not do so himself and Somervell County taxpayers paid for it. There was a mention of the transfers during the meeting, they were NOT shown, but I did an open records request looking for the receipts and contracts, etc.) 

So, you all know the adage "Follow the money". Budget transfers as well as bills to pay allow taxpayers to see how the money is being accounted for. Right now, the budget transfers can be, at the least, included in the agenda minutes packet that goes in after meetings. You can see what I mean by going to the Somervell County agenda site, where  there are columns for the agenda, the agenda packet, minutes and the minutes packet. The Somervell County clerk, who is Michelle Reynolds currently, scans in the relevant information afterwards, so that the info might not be part of the agenda itself but can be found later in the agenda packet or the minutes packet. 

Upshot is that the transfers are manually handed out right before the meeting by the Auditor's department and are not displayed for the benefit of citizens attending the meeting as they were in previous administrations. Since there are no handouts available of the agendas at the meetings, if a person wants a copy, he or she would need to go before the meeting to the auditor's office and ask for a copy. Otherwise, the budget transfers, if done and voted upon during the meeting, will be in the Minutes Agenda sometime after the meeting. 

 

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