The Harris County Department of Education Board of Trustees voted to hold the line on taxes at their monthly board meeting yesterday. The tax rate adopted is $0.005999, 5.6% lower than last year’s rate of $0.006358. The adopted rate is the calculated Effective Tax Rate. Click here to view the ETR worksheet.
Candidate for the HCDE Board Don Sumners spoke to the board during the Open Forum. Mr. Sumners was not happy with the results of the yearly budget, claiming that the department was operating in the red to the tune of $7 million. Jesus Amezcua, CPA, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services of the HCDE disputed Mr. Sumners claims and told the board that the organization was not operating in the red and that what Mr. Sumners was referring to was a timing difference between posting expenditures and revenues. Mr. Amezcua stated that the audited financials to be released in January will correct this.
Mr. Sumners also asked the board not to hire a superintendent until a consulting firm has been hired to evaluate the department from top to bottom and determine which departments are not returning a positive ROI. I talked to him briefly about his thoughts on hiring a consulting firm and he thinks that the department doesn’t have the skills necessary to do this type of evaluation internally. He also complained that when he attends meetings and department directors are asked questions by the board, a typical response is “I don’t know and will have to get back with you.” Sumners says this was prevalent in the budget meetings he attended and he doesn’t think that the directors have the training necessary to complete their own budgets, theorizing that in the past the budgets were pushed down from the previous superintendent.
I was glad to see Mr. Sumners engaged. The election is coming up fast and I don’t see the other candidates engaged at all.
It seems as though every time I write about the Harris County Department of Education, a commenter or three will chime in and say that the department is worthless, a waste of taxpayer money, and simply duplicates services found elsewhere. This is simply not the truth. I would urge you to go to one of these meetings and become familiar with the department and what it does. It certainly changed my view of the department over the past two years. Click here for an infographic which will teach you more about the department. The HCDE board is the opposite of what my friend George Scott writes about in this post on the Katy ISD board. The HCDE board is active, engaged, and informed and they do not allow the staff to walk over them. The staff is professional, taxpayer friendly, and always willing to listen to different ideas. Every governmental entity should be like the HCDE.
Good job by the board in holding the line on taxes.