For 35 years, I was bought and paid for by Texas Utilities.
In February of this year, I severed all relationships with TXU, Luminant, and Energy Future Holdings.
I do have retirement benefits and if they were to go bankrupt, I would lose a lot.
I worked for the president of the Power Plant Division of TXU. Their philosophy was: negotiate the power plant value and the property tax rate, write the check and what they do with the money is their business.
In my opinion, that may have been OK for TXU, but not always in the best interest of the rest of the taxpayers.
After severing ties with the power plant, I settled into my life of feeding the cattle, mowing my grass, operating a tow truck, having cocktails and watching the river roll by while writing a book.
In early June of this year, there was an article in the local paper that discussed downtown property values and responses from the county judge. I knew that the company that owns the nuclear plant was in serious financial trouble. But, no matter what, I knew that the plant is over 20 years old and worth less and less each year. It is on the tax rolls for at least $1 billion more than it is worth.
I watched the county government increase spending each year and take money out of our savings accounts year after year (from the $14 million range to a number at the end of this year that is between $5 million and $6 million). I knew that the county judge had repeatedly been advised by one of the top officials out of Dallas of the financial difficulties and issues with the true value of the power plant.
I've had a burr in my saddle for 25 years about the use of tax dollars by the hospital.
I watched my friend Somervell County Judge Dale McPherson die trying to fix it.
I personally reported mis-management and probable corruption in the dollar amount being in the $100,000 range. This meeting took place in my office at the nuclear power plant.
And, it is still the same – an almost blind dedication to the hospital by County Judge Mike Ford.
But I was bought and paid for by TXU. If you take a paycheck from somebody, you owe it to them to play by their rules.
Just since early June:
“The state made us do it” and “no option but to raise taxes” – in a local newspaper account.
A cover-up or inaction on hospital misappropriation of funds issue.
And, once again, telling a citizen of the county that the state was involved through “guidelines” leading the county to needing to reduce its savings.
My head almost exploded. And when the Hospital Authority Board president put forth the notion that there would be a tax savings to the taxpayers if there was a hospital district due to a financial treatment of indigent health care dollars, my head did explode!
We elect officials to represent us as taxpayers,so that we may go on about our business and not worry about our tax dollars.
We have been had.
But due to the actions by several members of this community, all of the sudden, the officials are lining up to do the right thing. I am encouraged.
It appears there will be a commissioners court effort to openly solicit offers and options in an open process.
One option already known will pay off $13 million-plus in debt, do away with all subsidies of the hospital, no Hospital Tax District, protect the employees, protect the doctors and make guarantees of future operations, and do away with all future liability.
I look forward to hearing all other options.