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Letter to the Editor: $266.02 spent by Commissioner Sims

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I am compelled once again to enter the fight.  I read the article on the $266.02 spent by Commissioner Sims for an awards plaque and a Christmas Dinner for his precinct employees.  I couldn’t help but notice a few things. I thought I would share those with you, the citizen.

First I noticed Mr. Navarro referenced a couple Attorney General Opinions stating if the County decides such expenditures serve a public purpose they are allowable. I also noted Mr. Navarro stated historically when officials have requested such expenditures in the past he has denied them based upon some historical unwritten policy against such expenditures.

I am unaware of the authority of the county auditor to refuse an expenditure unless it is unlawful. According to the Local Government Code he is charged with the strict enforcement of the law governing county finances. The county auditor has the responsibility, before approving a claim against the county, to determine whether the claim strictly complies with the laws governing county finances.

Here comes the deductive reasoning part…if the bill was paid, the auditor approved the expenditure. It then stands to reason that if this bill was paid it could only be a lawful expenditure, and therefore in compliance with the laws governing expenditures of county finances. Otherwise someone approved and paid an unlawful expenditure.  I am quite certain the expenditure was lawful as I am sure Mr. Navarro would never approve an unlawful expenditure.

Sooooo, we must question, if the expenditure was lawful, and paid by the auditor, then why are they making such a stink over it? I will let you form your own opinion.

It appears the “one exception” to the “unwritten policy” involves expenditures made by the county for the annual Christmas party for all county employees.  Evidently it is o.k. for the county to throw a party for all employees, but not for a Commissioner to do so for his precinct employees. I am sure there is some logic to this paternalistic assertion that assures us the “County” is somehow more responsible than a Commissioner, but I think our past budgets and expenditures might show otherwise.

I find it amazing that the statement was made that it is hard to spend taxpayer’s money on something like this, especially when it comes from one of the proponents for a $10,000 a year raise for elected officials. It’s hard to spend $266.02 but a piece of cake to spend hundreds of thousands so long as you get your share. Is it hard to approve $89,000 for non-itemized General Miscellaneous, as in the current budget?  Does anyone but me want to know what the heck that means?  They are not itemizing expenditures.

This reminds of the old “hello kettle, this is pot” situation.  People spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars like it’s coming out of your pocket and not theirs but making a scene over $266.02.  I am reminded about a story involving stones and a glass houses, and an even older statement that says, ‘you say, Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you don't see the beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you'll see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Yep, pot and kettle alright.

For the record, I don’t think it prudent for our commissioners to spend tax dollars on dinners either, especially in these troubling times.  I also don’t think it very wise to draw attention to budget expenditures unless you want someone interested in the “rest of the story”.  Perhaps Mr. Sims should use his public platform to bring up questionable expenditures he is aware of and see where that leads us.

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Nelson Propane

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