For those who don't know, here is a glimpse of how politics actually works.
A couple of things I've heard regarding this years budget started to make sense today after Judy Horne made her comment about the meeting where the county chose to ask for the roll back. I think the stinger on her video which follows is Tommie Graham saying he agreed with some of what she said.
While for most, Ms. Horne's comments add to the drama, to me it is more how government works ... which frankly can be as disturbing as the making of sausauge.
Her comments focused on the Aug. 3 meeting (she admitted she misspoke on the lectern) and she criticized David Austin for being 'unprofessional' at that meeting citing a rant he made against Sam Clark, a general level of distance and disengagement from the topic - the budget - and even that he up and left the meeting abruptly once there were votes for a motion and a second on the revision with the increased millage.
Of course we see the reaction to that in this topic.
Now for a little news. First, it is not a foregone conclusion that the advertised millage rate increase has the requisite three votes for passage ... It is quite possible that if Mr. Ragsdale and Mr. Pownall vote against it - and they have hinted they may do so - Mr. Austin might join them. He's not expected to do so but my reading is that he really, really, really didn't want to increase the millage and his initial plan called for just that.
Still, the county is up against the wall and it doesn't have any options other than go forward. It has to approve the budget and give the order to send out tax bills by Friday at noon or they may not get sent in time to start bringing money back into the county's coffers by November 15th. With the last advertised budget calling for the millage rate increase (which is a rollback amount under the law and not a tax increase.) they have to do this or risk running out of money in November.
What most folks don't realize is that the county's 'fund balance' is there to cover the county's expenses during the time from July through November when county cash flows dry up to a trickle ... and while the everyday expenses keep mounting day after day.
If they don't get the approvals through and tax bills sent, the county would have to borrow money to operate the remainder of November and December. That used to be common in Paulding in the period before Bill Carruth hired folks to do the job of financing the county and establishing a reserve fund. In the old days it was always necessary when administrations changed as the outgoing guy would have spent all the money leaving the new, replacement chairman with no money to fend for himself.
So, we've improved our systems. Still, I don't think the reaction that Ms. Horne observed was 'unprofessional' so much as a man forced into a corner that he didn't want to be. I know what little polish I possess often disappears when I'm given limited options that given any freedom of action I would decline.
I did see the Chairman last week - he wasn't at today's meeting - and I offered my congratulations. He then surprised me when he made a point - it seemed an odd point - to characterize how the sheriff referenced me personally ... It was a comical scene - he pooched his gut out in a gesture that he said Gary had performed.
What the chairman didn't say was what he and the Sheriff were talking about in regards to me I felt it had to do with the fact that the Sheriff knew I was backing him for the increase in funding his department needs to keep working. I had told Sheriff Gulledge that if he wanted to talk publicly, give me a call. He said he planned to negotiate privately.
Now I've been through more sheriff/county budget disputes than either our current sheriff or the chairman and the behind the scenes conflict is palpable, especially in an election year. Said a little differently, I'm sure the Sheriff was exercising a great deal of leverage going into the July 31st election date ... threatening to sue, threatening to go public ... threatening possibly even to endorse his rival ... and, for those who are naive, the politics of silence bought the deputies a 4 percent pay raise (The state, not the county controls the salaries of elected officials like the Sheriff.) I don't think anyone doubts that Sheriff Gulledge went to bat for his deputies.
I personally think the budget and millage rate as advertised will go through and the money for the pay raise for deputies and other county workers will be there.
But I think it is the last thing that the chairman wanted or wants to do. Rather than unprofessionalism, I read what Ms. Horne saw as extreme frustration with a system that demands compromise. I'm sure they'll all get over it.
What few recognize is that Tony Crowe had one thing right. This election was about the people. With Chairman Austin, it was about his people who were out there busting the guts to improve the community through increased development. With Mr. Crowe, those folks were expendable and he'd have savaged the county's efforts - which are just now beginning to become fruitful. Mr. Austin, not wanting to increase the millage at all just like Mr. Crowe, was hoping to hold the line for one more year of austerity for the county workers.
However, politics conspired. However reluctantly, David Austin is going to eat the millage increase. That means this election will end up being about 'the people' ... the county employees and those organizations the county funds... all of them.
Here's Ms. Horne's discussion: