Weatherford Democrat

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February 12, 2014

MEET THE CANDIDATES: The race for Parker County Judge

(Continued)

We have already limited tax rate increases and continue with the same tax rate. Individual tax bills may or may not increase based on appraisal changes (which are not controlled by Commissioners Court). Tax bills may increase because of the tax rate of other entities.

The general fund operating tax rate for the county is about 12 percent of the average tax rate for all taxing entities. Statewide, 82 percent of the 254 counties have a higher operating tax rate than Parker County.

Through sound business practices and a proven conservative approach to budgeting, we limit the tax while maintaining the expected level of service. Every budget has been scrubbed for unnecessary operating expenses. We cannot control unfunded mandates from the state which account for a large portion of our budget.

One of the biggest cost savings I was able to get approved was a change in our employee health insurance plan. We bought health insurance through an agency that cost us about $250,000 in commissions and administration fees.

Over the vehement objections of a former commissioner, I convinced the court to join a group with regional entities. Now, we pay no commissions and spend about $50,000 in administration fees. All monies paid by the county and employees now go directly to providing the benefits.

The transportation projects are one of the biggest economic engines we could have and with the positive growth we will continue to experience, we will have appropriate funds available to provide the expected services. If there is an economic downturn, we will do as we did several years ago. Cut expenses.

What are the duties and responsibilities of the county judge?

The county judge has multiple responsibilities beyond commissioners court. About half of my time is spent on judicial duties. These duties are an important part of the judicial process for our citizens and I am the only candidate qualified. I preside over Probate Court, which hears will prove ups, guardianships and mental competency hearings. I also am on a rotation schedule with the justices of the peace to set bond at the jail. A judge goes to the jail seven days a week, including holidays. This schedule was implemented after I became judge. The taxpayers have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars because every judge is committed to making the process the best it can be.

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