By Hayley Kappes
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON – The Bell County Commissioners and Judge Jon Burrows received official responses from local state legislators regarding a House bill that would prohibit unfunded mandates.
The court did not receive the response they sought.
Last week, the court sent a resolution to state Sen. Troy Fraser, state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock and state Rep. Ralph Sheffield requesting they support and co-author HJR 84, a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the state's right to impart unfunded mandates on counties.
In a letter to Burrows, Sheffield declined support, citing a constitutional amendment would tie the state's hands if it could not provide funding for something in the future.
Aycock wrote he will do everything in his power to limit unfunded mandates and further taxes, but he would not support the bill because he is "reluctant to support amendments to the constitution."
A response from Fraser was not received.
Burrows said at Monday's commissioners court meeting he will ask the legislators to reconsider their position on the bill.
During the last legislative session, the state required all counties with a population of 200,000 or greater institute a drug court.
Bell County applied for $240,000 in state grants, but received less than half of its request.
Statutes in the amendment stated if a county did not have sufficient funds for the court, it was not required to have it, but other county programs, including adult probation and Child Protective Services, could be in jeopardy of having their state funding pulled.
"We just can't risk losing funding on those programs because we didn't have a drug court," Burrows said. "We're trying to come up with a solution to satisfy the state without costing taxpayers in the end."
Burrows said the county may delegate one existing district judge to handle drug offense cases on a separate docket.
Contact Hayley Kappes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559.
Bell County Commissioners Court Action
-The court decided to not issue an outdoor burn ban after hearing commentary from Fire Marshal Steve Casey.
-Commissioner Tim Brown was recognized for his selection of the 2009-10 Commissioners Court Leadership Academy of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service's V.G. Young Institute of County Government of Texas A&M University.
-A motion was approved to vacate a portion of Rosanky Road in Holland after public comments were heard.
-An interlocal agreement with Rogers Independent School District was approved that will provide the paving of 900 square yards of roadway.