2009-08-19 / Letters

Letter to the Editor:

Judge George Solis says his plan could save county $80,000 a year

I regret having to reduce to writing my thoughts on the following issues which affects the Justice of the Peace Corp and the County of Willacy taxpayers in general. I wish I could visit with everyone personally. Get your phones on ready.

On August 17, 2009 all four Justices of the Peace for Willacy County sat shoulder to shoulder at a Budget Workshop organized by the Willacy County Commissioners Court. Missing this year was the Honorable Justice of the Peace Richard Solis who retired in June 2009. Said workshop is mandated by Texas law. One issue was very clear. No new raises!!! This despite a promise by the previous county commi-ssion to bring all judges to an even salary level. The County Commissioner will raise the salary of two commissioners so that the salaries will be in line with each other. The Justice of the Peace, Precinct One budget will be decimated. A recommendation by the county commission that is being considered is the appoin-tment of an administrative clerk (receptionist) who will in effect have four and possible five judicial supervisors. The proposal would also have all judges dipping into the Justice of the Peace Administration line items with the signature of at least three (3) judges. I personally believe this recommendation would be disastrous. It is my opinion the recommended budget for 2009- 2010 would not be sufficient to cover the office operation of Justice of the Peace Pct. 2. The budget for 2008-2009 resulted in four (4) line items in the red, with over 45 days remaining. Funds in line items for office supplies, travel and training and operating supplies were depleted. Much of the travel by both Judge and staff will go uncompensated. One benefit to the Willacy County coffers was the revenue collected by my court. In 2005-2006 my predecessor collected Twenty four thousand dollars ($24,000.00) in a thirteen (13) month period. My office collected in excess of one quarter million dollars ($250,000.00) during the same time frame in 2008-2009. As described to the County Commissioners, my plan for the office could increase collections by an additional fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00). However, in order for my office to function appropriately, addit-ional funds must be integrated into the budget.

A recommendation that would not hurt anyone is the incorporation of Precinct Five (5) and Precinct One (1) Constables and Justice of the Peace. At the present time there is no Constable in Precinct Five (5) and there is no Justice of the Peace in Precinct One (1). The County has allotted one hundred seventy- seven thousand, five hundred fifty eight dollars ($177,558.00) for all four offices. The combination of both offices would save in excess of eighty thousand dollars ($80,000.00). This would be a savings of approximately one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) in a ten (10) year period. Office space would also be minimized. This money would allow for the raises previously promised to the Justices of the Peace and bring the entire clerks in line, salary wise.

All judge and clerk functions and responsibilities are similar in nature. The Willacy County Commissioners must remember that even though all Justices of the Peace are in one office they are elected individually by the electorate. Call all commissioners if you believe the above noted information should be considered by the Willacy County Commissioners' Court. Their number is 689-4214, leave a message, commissioners are very good about returning their calls. Respectfully, Judge George Estevan Solis. Willacy County Justice of the Peace, Precinct Two, Vice President-South Texas Justice of the Peace and Consta-bles Association, Inc.
Pct. 2 Justice of The Peace
Geroge Solis

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