4-year term. Must be 18 years or older, a U.S. citizen, a resident of Texas, and a resident of the district represented. Responsible for representing the citizens of the district in which he/she is elected in the Collin County Commissioners Court, which conducts the general business of the county and oversees financial matters.
BBA, 1977, Southern Methodist University
JD, 1980, Southern Methodist University
Completing 2nd term as Commissioner; administrating $300 million plus Collin County budget each year; previously administered $500 million plus Plano ISD budget from 1998 to 2010;
I do not have any specific areas of the budget I would like to expand. However, I expect a large number of our elected officials and department heads will have additional budget needs which will need to be analyzed and considered by the Court, given our continuing growth and aging infrastructure. The Court's primary role is to review, analyze and adopt budgets for the other elected officials and department heads in the County, and assess the necessary tax to fund same. Given the continued growth, I am anticipating that each of our elected officials, including the District Attorney's office, the Sheriff's office, the District Clerk and the County Clerks will push for additional personnel and equipment. The key question is whether the data supports these requests. Our indigent defense and ad litem costs continued to grow at un-sustainable levels, and solutions will need to be crafted to address this issue, including possibly contract services or a public defender office.
Planning and building consensus for long term transportation infrastructure within the County is currently our biggest challenge. Once the plan is in place, then funding and construction of such transportation infrastructure will be the next challenge. I have been pushing the County, the Texas Depart. of Transportation and the Regional Transportation Council to implement such planning and to allocate funding for such construction. I have also pushed for a major County bond issue in 2018.
The State continues to decrease funding for mental health services. Although it is state issue, the impact of reduced State funding is that our jail and hospitals have become the primary mental health providers for these residents. This structure is ineffective for our residents with mental health issues, and is expensive. The State must increase funding for mental health. We have established our own mental health authority to address our responsibilities, and engaged LifePath Systems implement.
The County must continue to expand and strengthen the public/private partnerships developed to the meet the needs of these residents. This resident population continues to grow. The distribution of indigent health care services through private clinics seems to be better and more cost effective solution. However, the County must find ways to provide higher level of medical care for these residents at reduced cost to its taxpayers. Since I have been in office, we have developed a Project Access program modeled after one in Dallas County, which provides additional health care services and resources to these residents, including primary care and specialist care physicians. The program continues to grow.
We have established our own mental health authority to address our responsibilities, and engaged LifePath Systems to provide these services. We have also entered into several private partnerships addressing some of the housing needs within the County using dedicated funding sources.
As I stated above, planning and building consensus for long term transportation infrastructure within the County is currently our biggest challenge. Once the plan is in place, then funding and construction of such transportation infrastructure will be the next challenge. I have been pushing the County, the Texas DoT and the Regional Transportation Council to implement such planning and to allocate funding for such construction.
I was instrumental in obtaining a $600 million of state funding over the next 10 years for construction of such infrastructure and $120 million for design and clearance of such infrastructure. I also have been leading the effort for the County to call a $500 to $600 million dollar bond issue for transportation infrastructure with no tax increase anticipated. I have also built consensus and I moving forward with a strategic public transportation study. Roadway improvements alone are not enough; public transportation must part of solution.
The County, its cities, law enforcement and emergency management officials must continue to plan, communicate and train to handle emergencies, including natural disasters. The County's emergency manager coordinates such communication, planning, and training, and coordinates the large volunteer network the County has in place if such an emergency were to occur. The County has a comprehensive emergency response plan which it continues to modify and upgrade based upon best practices and experiences of other communities and agencies. Training is key component of the County's being prepared.
The County is replacing and upgrading its 911 dispatch to handle our continued growth and emergency situations. Several years ago, I pushed for placing $50 million is reserve for such an emergency. However, that reserve was removed from the budget and re-prioritized to transportation infrastructure because the County maintains at least a 180 day reserve fund to cover such a situation
As stated above, I believe that finding better cost effective solutions to limit escalating costs of providing indigent defense and ad litem services to our indigent residents is the next pressing issue for the County, after planning and funding for transportation infrastructure, and normal budget requests. These expenditures exceed $6.5M in annual costs. We may need to explore some kind of contract service or public defender program to limit these rising costs and better service this population.
Expansion of our jail and medical examiner's office will also need to be addressed in the near future. We should continue to invest in the use of electronic records and systems to better serve our residents and limit expansion of County payroll. Payroll costs represent 70% of our budget each year. We must continue to find more efficient, cost effective systems, to address our needs, serve our residents and keep our costs down.