A budget item that may raise some eyebrows in the planning of this year’s budget is money that Bowie County spends to outstation two employees at the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol office. Last year, the County forked over $83,174.00. So, Bowie County “pays” the state troopers an incentive to write traffic tickets.
It appears that the County furnishes two secretaries to the Highway Patrol. This started many years ago and the thought behind placing secretaries was that they can do the paperwork for the troopers – which would free up the troopers – and in turn, they would write more tickets – resulting in more revenue for the County.
So are giving state troopers an incentive to stop people and write tickets. If they write a bunch of tickets than these County employees will do all of their paperwork for them.
If you take a look at the job description for a state trooper it doesn’t say anything about performing those duties that the secretaries are doing. Here’s what the state says that a trooper will be responsible for once he graduates:
“…Duties upon completion of the Academy include apprehending traffic law violators, investigating most rural traffic accidents, recovering stolen vehicles/stolen property, apprehending wanted persons, and assisting other agencies. Troopers will perform other duties as assigned to fulfill the responsibilities of a Texas State Trooper…”
Now, I’m sure there’s some paperwork involved. But if you’ve got a ticket lately from the Highway Patrol, you’ll notice that the trooper has a small handheld computer with a printer. Everything is entered on the side of the road and automatically transmitted to a central computer system that makes it available to the local judge or justice of the peace.
The secretaries, although they may occasionally assist an individual trooper, performs the secretarial duties for the local Sergeant or some other local supervisor. Here’s what their job description looks like:
“…Performs responsible secretarial and routine administrative support work for the Highway Patrol Service. Prepares reports, forms, memoranda, etc. Performs data entry and generates statistical summaries. Answers correspondence and telephone calls, screens and/or routes calls, or takes messages. Answers procedural and general information questions. Work is performed under general supervision, after training, with some latitude for the exercise of independent judgment in work methods within the limits of applicable rules, regulations, policies and procedures…”
Although the County might benefit if it provides secretaries to the Highway Patrol, it is not the County’s job and certainly not a County function of government to prepare reports, answer the telephone or take messages the Highway Patrol.
If the County is going to provide employees to the state of Texas, while belonging to each hospital I’m sure there’s a lot of paperwork that the hospital had an additional employee the doctors would be able to save at least one extra life every month. Surely that’s worth $83,000 a year.
Think about this, for $83,000 the Sheriff’s office could hire two deputies and they could run around writing tickets. And, while not writing tickets they can be patrolling the rural areas of the County.
Tell your commissioner and the County judge cut the operating budget $83,000 a year. We’ll all feel better when it’s time to write our check for the tax collector.