Liberty Dispatch’s observations about who is who in the Republican Party will be found here for discussion as the next election approaches.
In a recent workshop, Commissioner Norman Brown, a longtime Democrat until changing to the Republican Party last election, was very open and plain spoken as he stated, “We need to look at raising taxes. I have said it every year and you can quote me on that.”
Though we can all respect Commissioner Brown’s straight forward talk, we can also discern that his decision to switch political parties was not accompanied by a change in the way he wants to conduct the taxpayers’ business. He also suggested borrowing more money through certificates of obligation. Brown has announced he will run for re-election and it will be interesting to see if he will continue to say raising taxes is what needs to be done.
Brown’s suggestion of raising taxes and borrowing more money was not received favorably by County Judge Craig McNair, who made it clear that raising taxes and borrowing more money would not be well received by the people who elected the office holders in the workshop and that it was not an acceptable solution for him to endorse. (Sic. raising taxes)
In addition, after some back and forth conversation in the room, County Auditor Harold Seay confirmed that though Mr. Brown and the Democrat officials he served with through the years had not officially “raised taxes”, the effective rate had been raised and, therefore, taxpayers have forked over more and more money over the years. (Or in common folk language, without government’s distorted definition, they have been raising taxes all along).
In about an hour and half workshop Tuesday morning, County Auditor Harold Seay also weighed in on the idea of more certificates of obligation by pointing out that spending too much was the problem and that in the past (when all of the officials were Democrats) as soon as one certificate of obligation was paid off the county would just borrow more money.
“It is one thing to do that on a public building or a fixed asset, but the practice of borrowing money on short term regular expenditures is not good,” said Mr. Seay, in what could be described as a plea for this group of officials to change to better (conservative) business practices than in the years of former County Judge Kirkham and Phil Fitzgerald and former Commissioners like Melvin Hunt, Todd Fontenot, and Lee Groce.
At some point in the workshop, there was a poignant change in focus. Initially, the focus from the County Auditor and the County Judge was to prepare every official in the room for another tight budget where everyone should be looking to prioritize their department’s spending and looking for places to cut their budget. Then a short interim in the workshop’s discussion focused on trying to increase the county’s revenue, but raising taxes and borrowing money seemed to lack consensus.
The final shift in the conversation was a bit more bizarre. The conversation in the last thirty minutes or so turned to the process used to decide the particulars of the budget. More than once, County Clerk Paulette Williams emphasized she needed more money. She indicated dissatisfaction with the results of several attempts to plead her case for her department receiving more money. Despite efforts by the County Auditor and the County Judge to validate that she felt like every department in the county government, she continued to insist that she was not being heard in the process that simply allotted her time to discuss her needs in a private meeting with the County Auditor and the County Judge.
The meeting closed with what appeared to be unanimous consent to give each department head time fifteen minutes to speak about their budget needs in future workshops. In what was obviously one more attempt to make sure Ms. Williams was listening to the economic situation of the county, the County Auditor echoed, once again, the idea that he hoped each department head would speak about how they could help reduce the deficit in the budget and stop the irresponsible financial insanity that has been going on for many years, rather than each person insisting they need more money.
To re-cap the meeting, the most obvious things that were observed in this workshop were County Judge Craig McNair and County Auditor Harold Seay’s leadership in trying to save the county.
At one point, Judge McNair said, “I know it is not popular, but we cannot keep spending more money than we take in. Some people may think we don’t care, but everyone of us would love to give our people a raise.” He continued as he pointed out that Liberty County can’t keep borrowing money and think that is good for the employees or the rest of the citizens in the county. It is bad for everyone. It is the wrong thing to do.
We applaud Judge McNair and Mr. Seay as neither of these people have an easy job.
In the near future, Liberty Dispatch will identify officeholders and candidates who are willing to make poor business decisions on behalf of the people of Liberty County all in order for their own short term gain. We will try to identify those who are joining together in an attempt to defeat the people who are making good, tough decisions that will be the best thing for this county and which will allow us the chance to make an informed decision at election time.