Fighting Taxes with
Savings & Smart Government
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
June 30, 2005

That's right! With enough smarts, courage and lots of scrutiny, we can fight rising taxes. The constant drumbeat of demand for County services of all sorts along with limited resources is one I cannot and do not take lightly. In addition to its two principle functions: health and justice, there are a plethora of other things we do like roads, housing finance, environmental violations enforcement and so forth. How we finance these within reason is the challenge we face.

Today I thought I would share with you just some of the recent and ongoing efforts to save money while attempting to accomplish the above balancing act.

I do not know how long Bexar County has had its principle depositary bank relationship with one bank, but I do know that this Commissioner's Court stepped-up to the plate to do the right thing here. Our fiduciary responsibilities include getting the best overall deal for the County. We cannot choose friends over fiscal responsibility. I am not saying that the "friends" have not or do not factor into decision-making, but fiscal responsibility is foremost in our decision making process.

For a very long time, Bexar County had most of its insurance business with the same people it had been with for years. Commissioner's Court competitively bidded the insurance business of the County and with some adjustments in the process, achieved a savings of $1,300,000.00 annually!

In 2003, you voted for the County's bond proposal. This allowed for the County to own instead of renting the Adult Probation Building and the Fleet Maintenance Building. Instead of paying out about $1,000,000.00 annually, when we pay off the new buildings in ten years, we will save that amount annually, less maintenance!

Commissioner's Court has begun the process of installing low energy florescent light bulbs, installed the State's largest solar hot water heater at the Jail Annex and has installed an energy management system for an estimated annual savings of $200,000.00. On July 13, we will hear about an innovative approach that will allow us to speed up the pace of conservation measures that will raise this annual savings amount to $700,000.00 annually. And, over the next five years I hope we can double that figure!

The big "five hundred pound guerrilla" in the budget however is yet to be tackled: our bloated jail population! With over forty different judges and related court personnel dealing with the population, this is a gargantuan and seemingly impossible task. To put this guerilla on a diet is not easy.

We need plenty of space for the bad guys but not a single space for those who have no place being in our jail. One might ask who is in jail that ought to be out? The answer is among other challenges, those stuck in jail because of limited financial circumstance, those with mild mental health conditions and others as well that should be dealt with appropriately, but not in our jail.

To fail to bring down the jail population responsibly means $7 million annually for each group of 400 inmates in our jail. We presently have over 4,000 costing each and every one of us $70 million each year!

The above efforts are only a small part of a much larger quest for efficiency. To be fiscally sound they must be constant. I am very happy to hear from you as to any ideas you might have on this or any topic. This is your and my County and if we won't fight for its fiscal well-being, who will?

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