Cannons to the Left of Me
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
March 13, 2003
No, it's not the re-enactment of the Battle of the Alamo. It's another day in the life of local government. Rarely does a day go by when your County government is not fighting off some higher unit of government's effort to share their fiscal pain with you and I here at the local level. So it is these fiscal cannon balls roll into our gates or fly into our camp regularly. What we do with or can do with them is critical to our survival.
Typical of these cannon balls rolling into our camp last session was the indigent defense bill. It short-circuited our very imaginative and self-financing San Antonio Plan, which generated around $500,000 from attorneys who in effect, paid into the system in order to not be appointed to criminal defense cases and allocated it to those who willingly accepted these cases. Next the bill set up a system that costs local Bexar County property tax payers this fiscal year, $1,293,677, $600,274 in administrative expenses and $693,403 in court-appointed attorneys fees!
Another cannon ball flying into our camp last year was a bill from our insurance carrier for a $7 million increase in employee hospital insurance. Our new insurance advisor was able to cut this $7 million to $3 million, which the County chose to absorb on behalf of its employees. This fight as many of you know, continues.
For some time I have revolted against the State housing its parole violators in our jail free and then slapping our County with sanctions for being out of compliance with its State Jail Commission based upon our bloated population. As we speak; your County is seeking to have state prisoners removed into state prisons from the Bexar County Jail at a faster clip than they have been removed historically.
I have today been informed that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intends to mandate the clean up of our runoff storm water. The price tag for this should be several million dollars. Of course, no money will be sent to underwrite this mandate.
With the legislature in high gear, there's still plenty of time for the Legislature to send us somebody's "great idea" that will have no corresponding money to finance it. That is why your Commissioner's Court continues to monitor the proceedings of the Senate, the House and the respective committees of each House. Three of the members of Commissioner's Court are former legislators and have lots of contacts in Austin. Vigilance still, is the key!
Until the end of the session at the end of May, I will continue to attempt to keep you abreast of the legislative developments. In the meantime, your County will continue to explore ways to collect past-due monies owed to the County from those using our courts and to realize energy savings from conservation. What a worthy challenge!