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Bishop responds to budget matters

Editor:

I would like to give my opinion on the 2017 budget and working together. As most of you know I am new at this job. I am not trying to make excuses for my mistakes, and I will make mistakes. I am taking advice from and any all office holders when the offer help and when I ask they are very forthcoming. But on this budget we voted on 2/6/17 no help or advice was given and not asked for. We have been working on this budget for a month and a half. Opinions and advice was free flowing among the commissioners. I though and hoped it would continue throughout my term. That advice stopped on 2/6/17.

The County Clerk told us she needed approval on the budget before she could put the budget together. She had to have five days to put it together so that it could go on display for 10 days. The commissioners were leaving town for training. So we rushed the vote. (Presiding Commissioner Gary) Wilhite asked if we had looked at the budget. (Eastern Commissioner Allen) Dale and I both said we had glanced over it.

“All I basically saw was a revenue and expenditure page, but it didn’t have the correlating pages to show how they were broken down, so I voted not to accept that,” Dale said Friday afternoon. If Dale had looked at the budget the line items (were) there except for Road & Bridge and jail was not included because there was no consensus on how it was broken down.

A motion was made to vote on the budget that we had in front of us. Wilhite asked if there was any discussion on the motion. There was no discussion. This is where it would have been nice for Dale, a 17-year commissioner, to speak up and let us know there was a problem. That would have kept us from voting on an incomplete budget. But he wanted it in the paper so that Wilhite and I would look bad.

“Dale said all the budget information is public record, although the Richmond News and several county department heads were told they could not see the budget while the county clerk’s office was preparing it. Dale said he doesn’t know why no one had been allowed to see the budget.”

According to state statute the budget cannot be given out displayed until it is completed. A 17-year commissioner should know that.

“If we don’t pay attention and take care of the past, and we don’t pay attention to the future – our seniors are our past, and our children are our future – I don’t think anything in the middle is going to make much difference,” Dale said. “There are just two things that are beyond reproach, and that’s our seniors and our children.” Our seniors, which I am one, and our children are very important, and our law enforcement officers are very important, 911 is very important. As a matter of fact every department working for the county is important. If one department shuts down the whole county will probably shut down. The commissioners were elected to make these kids of decisions. We cannot spend money we don’t have. I guess we could borrow $200,000 like Dale wanted us to. That way next year would be worse than this year. We would probably have to shut down the courthouse at least one and maybe two days a week. That is something we do not want to do.

The county commissioners are supposed to work together for all citizens in Ray County. If the commissioners can’t work together why would any of the other officers?

Jerry Bishop

Ray County Western Commissioners

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