As I write this article, there seems to be tragedy all over our country. Wildfires have devastated the State of Texas causing the loss of two firefighters and millions of dollars in damage (see photos, page ?). We have had a sheriff’s deputy gunned down in a courthouse as she transported a prisoner from the courtroom back to the jail. Tornados have destroyed several Texas communities and have ravaged the southeastern states causing untold deaths and property damage beyond anything we have experienced in history. Our thoughts go out to all who have suffered loss, and we pray that God brings comfort and peace in the days ahead.
All of these tragedies have stretched local resources to the limit; however, there are things I have noticed through this time: local determination and an overwhelming outpouring of love and help provided to neighbors and families. Sometimes in our efforts to deal with all the muck of our jobs we lose sight of what really matters in life. The Legislature seems to be caught in a wringer trying to come up with a balanced budget; counties are caught in the middle between less revenue and more needs for their communities; our emergency services and fire departments are struggling with over-spent budgets; our equipment needs repairs; and many of our employees are overworked. In spite of these challenges, the spirit of local governments in this state and around our country is alive and well.
People helping people is the one bond that we all share. It does not matter if you are Democrat or Republican, rural or urban, majority or minority…it’s the desire to help and give support to those in need that separates us from the rest of the world. It’s that spirit of community that says we will rebuild and be better than we were, and that faith in a living God that says I am my brother’s keeper. This spirit has been expressed over and over around the state as we move through this difficult time, and I am so proud to be part of local government. From every corner of the state and in every county I see officials ready and willing to face the challenges of today so we can have better tomorrows. Be strong and keep up the good work…there are brighter days ahead.
Speaking of brighter days, by the time you read this article the Regular Session of the Texas Legislature will be over; however, at this time it appears we are headed for at least one special session and maybe more, so the clouds are not gone for good, and storms are still on the horizon. Be diligent and stay alert.
I know you all are waist deep in budget preparations dealing with revenue cuts and how they will affect counties. I know you are also struggling with the proposed increases in expenses of your county budget, and wondering how all of this is going to balance out while trying to avoid raising taxes. Ah, the wonderful life of county government. But let’s get back to my original thought of how blessed we are and how much we look forward to the challenge.
I have enjoyed getting to see all of you as I have traveled to our regional conferences, and I have certainly enjoyed making new friends all over our beautiful state. I have grown in my knowledge of county government and the vast differences we face in our counties. This knowledge magnifies the need for local control and the realization that the “one-size-fits-all” mentality of government will not work; if ever there was one, Texas is the poster child for this flawed theory.
Remember, with great challenge comes great opportunity.