C. The third and certainly not the least important goal is to make sure we do not back up on law enforcement support. A couple of budget sessions ago, my opponents and a commissioner wanted to reduce law enforcement funding. In a county that is one of the fastest growing in the state, we must not reduce our commitment to public safety. The judicial system, which includes all of the courts and support services, law enforcement and the jail, are responsibilities of county government as required by statute and the constitution. Those laws have millions of dollars of unfunded mandates pushed down on county government to fund.
The transportation bond projects approved by the voters in 2008 are nearly complete. What is your opinion on what has been accomplished and what, if any, are the next steps the county should take?
Unprecedented accomplishment in Parker County. When the voters approved the $80 million in bond funds, I promised transparency, oversight of the projects and a quick start. Sixty days after receiving funds, we started our first project. We are approaching the five-year mark and will soon be finished with every project and under budget.
The Federal Highway Administration attempted to overextend their authority on the Western Loop with EPA requirements. I went to bat for the taxpayers and after months of discussions, the citizens of Parker County won the battle. The Feds conceded they had no authority over our local road, and I was able to get the normal environmental review time for the interstate interchange reduced from about three years to nine months. This victory saved the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and kept Washington out of our business.
The county has not stopped planning and implementing our transportation plan. A public hearing on the Eastern Loop interchange, which will begin at Centerpoint Road, will be held this summer. The county has funds to pay our share. The success we have enjoyed is because of the partnerships developed. I meet regularly with city representatives, TxDOT, regional partners and NCTCOG transportation staff. There has never been such a unified partnership in Parker County. I am secretary of the Regional Transportation Council and have secured $35 million in state and federal transportation dollars for our county and will be chairman in 2015. I have recommended to the commissioners, and they have agreed, that we should approach precinct road building operations in the same manner as I used with the bond. We should prioritize repairs for local roads, improve standards, and cut operational costs by consolidating equipment. That process has begun.