At Commissioners Court on July 14, Judge Lacy’s son, Steve Lacy made a detailed presentation about the figures County Auditor William Tye has been providing to the Court.
He pointed out that Tye’s reports of available cash as of October 1, 2013 had varied from a positive $2.2 million at that time, down to a negative $3.4 million presented in May.
Tye said that any numbers before the final figure were estimates, and that he can’t provide accurate figures until a few months after the fiscal year ends. Steve Lacy responded that he should be able to give the Court those numbers at least monthly, and that the Court will never be able to make good decisions until that happens.
County Legal Advisor Carol Dalby said later that “The District Judges have confidence in the County Auditor.” I haven’t been able to confirm that.
Mr. Tye, quoted in a newspaper article, admitted to moving funds from what he thought was a restricted account (the “FEMA” fund) into the general fund. Mike Sandefur, the chairman of the Financial Advisory Committee, went into great detail at Commissioners Court on July 14 how the county had dipped into restricted funds on more than one occasion.
We were told that $3.4 million was removed from this fiscal year’s revenues to replenish restricted funds depleted in the past. Other than the “FEMA fund,” which only held approximately $720,000, we still haven’t been told which restricted funds were used, nor when.
There is a great deal of finger-pointing regarding Bowie County finances. Are we dealing with the ramifications of former Judge James Carlow’s budget issues? Or was the county on firm financial footing until Judge Sterling Lacy took office? These issues might be easier to understand — and correct — if Commissioners Court could be given correct, up-to-date financial information.
It seems Bowie County would benefit from a new auditor, and a fresh, detailed look at our finances. (Incidentally, private citizens have offered to establish a fund to pay for a forensic audit to determine how much money the county actually has, and how it has been managed.)
What do you think?