By Patti Jones
It was good to see so many of you last month in College Station at the V. G. Young School for County Commissioners Courts. Rick Avery and his staff put together two days of varied educational sessions with exceptional speakers. They made sure to include plenty of classes for those attempting to complete their Commissioners Court Advanced Curriculum requirements before the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas Annual Conference in September.
Since my first conference in 2001, I am still amazed at the fellowship and “education” that happens during the breaks, while visiting with vendors, and at evening functions. You can look all around and see two or three individuals engaged in conversation. There have even been some tracks at various conferences over time adopting this design. Breakout sessions were grouped according to similar-sized counties to allow all those in attendance to ask questions and share solutions. Many Judges and Commissioners went home with new ideas on how to handle old problems.
On another note, the speaker of the house and the lieutenant governor released interim charges for the Texas House and Senate committees. The speaker released many charges affecting county government including transportation, mental health, criminal justice, elections, natural resources and taxes. Some of the charges released by the lieutenant governor include local government financial transparency and economic development issues. I know many of you are involved in the Leadership Circle established by the Texas comptroller of public accounts. Their local government reporting tool provides links to financial information posted by local governments. It also provides details on Leadership Circle award winners as determined by the Texas comptroller. Many of us use this as a marketing tool in our county to illustrate to our taxpayers how frugal and transparent we are, allowing access to our websites so they can view how their money is being spent.
Since we are in the interim, I encourage each of you to study the charges and visit with your legislators. This is the time when they are home in their districts; take advantage of this.
As spring approaches, be mindful of new beginnings, and do your part to be involved in them. I’ll see more of you down the road at future conferences.