Report from Financial Advisory Committee Member Robert Worthen (Video and Transcript)

Bowie County TexasOn Monday at Bowie County Commissioners Court, Financial Advisory Committee member Robert Worthen presented a brief report on the history of the county’s cash accounts for the last several years. At my request, Worthen forwarded his prepared remarks for publication:

Bowie County revenue and spending gradually increased until 2008 where revenue actually made a significant spike upwards then pretty much leveled off for 2009, then went down significantly in 2010. Apparently, in 2008 there was a huge surplus from the jump in revenue before spending increased proportionately in 2009 to where the county spent about what it took in for fiscal year 2009. Since 2009, the county has basically been showing a year to year deficit by spending more than it takes in on an annual basis. Everyone needs to understand that these financial problems are not ours alone but largely due to our national financial problems of which we have almost no control over. Many other local governments have these same financial woes and these woes will only get worse in the coming years unless we can fix our national financial problems. Businesses have gone out of business across the country as well as right here in Bowie County. In and around Texarkana, hundreds of businesses and homes have been abandoned and probably over a thousand others are for sale.

Anyone who thinks your job as Commissioners is easy in times like this, have never been in your position.

Evidence presented to the court has revealed major errors of reporting and accounting. It seems obvious you have been given conflicting information by the County Auditor. These conflicting reports have brought us to the fiscal cliff of reality, that depending on which report you believe, we are near bankruptcy or we have millions in the bank! After many months and countless arguments, the truth still seems to elude us. The Bible says: When you know the truth, the truth will set you free. We should all seek the truth at all costs to stamp out false and misleading information. The Truth is the first key in our struggle to right our county’s financial ship.

My 1st recommendation for the Bowie County Commissioner’s Court is for the County Auditor be required to provide a simple, complete, and accurate monthly financial report or at the very least, every quarter. These reports must be simple enough to be understandable to any citizen of average education and intelligence. Much of the confusion about what to do and how to do it has resulted from incomplete, inaccurate and untimely reporting. This needs to be addressed and fixed immediately if anything meaningful is to be accomplished now and in the future. The overriding fact is the county has been running a deficit for about five years because expenses have exceeded the revenue.

In these nationally stressful financial times, having simple, accurate and timely financial reports on a regular basis is essential for you to even begin to do your jobs as stewards of our county. We the taxpayers of Bowie County deserve no less than simple, accurate and timely financial reports so our elected commissioners can do their job properly.

Thank you for your time.

Worthen mentions the he is working alone because he and the chairman of the Financial Advisory Committee “had a little disagreement.” The story can be found here.

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