BLAME GAME: Rollback accused as source of Ellis County’s problems
By 04/26/2001 00:00:00
Ellis County Press
WAXAHACHIE - Everyone seems ready to jump on the blame bandwagon started by the Ellis County Commissioners' Court.
Danny Rogers, representing the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce, which opposed the measure in the March 3 election, said the rollback 'hit home' in Midlothian.
'The rollback situation damaged all of us in ways the taxpayers didn't take into consideration,' he said. 'People did not take the time to consider.'
'Contrary to the manifestations of the ill informed,' agreed County Judge Al Cornelius, 'there is not a lot of fat in this budget. The rollback put us back, we simply do not have the funds.'
Stretching the claim past the breaking point in a candidates' forum last week, Waxahachie school board hopeful Jim Phillips blamed the rollback for a poor collections record in WISD.
'With so many delinquencies, from January through March we lost over $30,000 in interest alone,' Phillips claimed. 'That's money we'll never get back.'
Phillips said delinquencies beginning in January were caused by a lack of manpower in the tax collector's office, in spite of the fact the election was not held until March 3 and personnel cuts were not approved until March 8.
'What they've never answered is how in the world were they living under the budget last year,' said Marshal Evans, vice chairman of the Taxpayer's Alliance for Good Government. 'Then they increased it, we reduced (the increase) by half, and all of a sudden we can't live with it, we need all these cuts.'
Evans and other TAGG members have repeatedly called for county officials to 'take a deep breath' before making cuts in personnel and programs. Instead, officials closed offices in outlying cities first thing Monday morning after the Saturday election, pulling out computers and furniture and possibly even turning in orders to disconnect phone systems three days before commissioners even met to canvass the vote.
'Everything is being blamed on the rollback instead of on the cuts,' said Evans.
Referring to Sheriff Ray Stewart's assertion he is now housing only 18 prisoners in Dallas County as opposed to 85 at this time last year, Evans laughed as he said, 'Maybe the rollback has lowered crime, and that can be evidenced by how few people we are now housing in the jail.'