Judge Lewis Argues for a $20,000 pay raise for himself

Here is the audio excerpt from the August 6th Commissioners Court “workshop” on the budget.

At 3 hours and 19 minutes into the “workshop”, Commissioner Bodeker puts in a request for the Judge’s salary to be raised $20,000. That’s right — $20,000.  According to the Hill County 2013 approved budget published at https://tools.cira.state.tx.us, Judge Lewis’ salary is $51,838.00. A $20,000 pay raise is a 38% plus pay raise.  Really!!!

Rightly so, some of the commissioners politely say that they cannot support such a request, yet Commissioner Bodeker insists that the court entertain a $20,000 pay raise for the judge. The court’s response to the suggested $20,000 pay raise is dead silence.

Interestingly, Judge Justin Lewis argues for the pay raise himself and that argument is based on the premise that to be a “good” County Judge you need to have a law degree.  However, here is a quote from the Texas Courts Online (http://www.courts.state.tx.us) that completely refutes his argument, as Hill County has a County Court At Law presided over by Judge Lee Harris.  Additionally, Hill County has an elected position of County Attorney, currently David Holmes, that assists the County Commissioners Court in legal matters.

“In addition to performing judicial functions, the county judge serves as the administrative head of the county government. In the more populated counties, the administrative duties occupy most of the time of the county judge, and the Legislature has created county courts at law and statutory probate courts to relieve the county judge of most, and in some cases all, of the judicial duties usually performed by that office.”

 

Local citizen speaks out…

In the January 16th edition of a local newspaper there was an article titled “Petition Proposes Change in Road System”.  According to the article Precinct 2 Commissioner Steven Sulak is circulating the petitions to call an election to “discontinue the optional county road system in Hill County.”

The optional county road system, or unit road system, was passed by the voters of Hill County in November of 2012 overwhelmingly by 63.8%, 5285 to 3373.

All five members of the Commissioners Court went on record as being against the unit road system and they have been dragging their heels in implementing it. Our natural tendency is to resist change but the County Judge and the four commissioners are elected by the people and they should carry out the will of the people and in an expeditious manner.

Maybe it’s time for the voters to elect individuals to the Commissioners Court that carry out the will of the people instead of keeping the people that want to change things back to the way “we’ve always done it”?

Rudy H. Matthaei, P.E.

Reasons to elect Mike Hendricks for Hill County Judge

The March 4th, 2014 Republican Primary vote for Hill County Judge is a pivotal time for Hill County.

A pivotal time when we elect to remain unwilling to change, in a reactionary mode to inevitable growth, and continuing to embrace our past business-model (circa 1836)

OR

when we elect to be proactive, invite innovation, and become a leader within Texas.

Over the past 10 years, I have systematically studied our current county government in detail. The results of my long term study clearly show there is a glaring need to implement better and more efficient business practices with proactive and objective leadership from the Hill County Commissioners Court. These changes will:

  • Take advantage of the readily available developmental potential for our county that is bisected by the I-35 corridor.
  • Capitalize on the wealth of opportunities that lie within our reach.
  • Better utilize our scarce taxpayer dollars, preventing waste and lost opportunities.
  • Result in Hill County being one of the best managed counties in Texas.

The primary duty of the county judge is to “preside” over the Hill County Commissioners Court. The county judge is essentially the “rudder” that steers county government. I believe that Hill County is in desperate need of better leadership – a new leadership that is both proactive and objective. So what does proactive and objective leadership look like in implementation? My proactive and objective leadership would implement:

  • Public servant Leadership style that is “of the people, by the people, for the people”. People will always be our most valuable asset. The Unit-Road System was voted in by a 61% to 39% landslide vote. Yet, with an entire year to implement the new roads and bridge management system, the current leadership has failed to plan and properly put even the semblance of a unit system into practice. Essentially, they have totally ignored your vote and the “will of the people”. As Hill County Judge, I pledge to never ignore the “will” of Hill County voters.
  • Form panels of elected & appointed county officials, educators, business & agricultural leaders to provide solutions to challenges like: Economic development; Better road systems; Sheriff Office staffing; ESD; Justice of the Peace boundary areas; Feral hog problems; Pet overpopulation; Others.
  • Establish the Hill County Resources Panel that meets quarterly and includes all 13 elected Hill County mayors. The purpose of this panel is to help county government better utilize ALL the resources of the county.
  • Create steering groups to develop strategies to spur economic growth in the county.
  • Re-establish the Information Technology (IT) users group to better utilize current and/or new IT resources.
  • Revitalize the Information Technology (IT) program by publishing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to scrutinize and evaluate available solutions to the currently inadequate Hill County IT program (please visit my website for details).
  • Avoid unnecessary tax increases that can devastate rural agriculture communities.
  • Enable elected county officials to manage their approved budget.
  • Institute budgetary management practices and off-the-shelf programs that provide:
  • Better budget forecasting.
  • Workforce planning and forecasting.
  • Greater transparency of the budget to Hill County citizens so they can know and understand how their tax dollars are being spent.
  • Create an assessment procurement panel (made up of capital equipment users) to prioritize spending to avoid past subjective and politically motivated purchases (go to http://mikehendricks4judge.com for dedails).

As your County Judge, I will be your FULL TIME elected official prepared to give 100% of my efforts to improve the well being of the citizens of Hill County.I am committed to make our county government transparent. Under my leadership, the county books will be open, accessible, and understandable to our citizens. That enables you, as a taxpayer, to use that information to make informed decisions and hold our county government accountable.

I wholeheartedly believe that together, as a team, we can make Hill County grow into the best managed county in Texas. I will always keep the “best for Hill County” in mind and realize that your tax dollars are a scarce resource that must be effectively and judiciously managed.Your vote on Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 is needed to change the way business is conducted by our county government and I respectively ask you for me, Mike Hendricks, for Hill County Judge.

Please contact me at anytime and/or visit www.MikeHendricksForJudge.com and www.facebook.com/mikeforjudge to stay abreast of my campaign..

Sincerely,

Mike Hendricks for Hill County Judge
5th Generation Hill County Family (farm established 1852)

Unit Road System Benefits

the Unit-Road System was voted in by Hill County citizens in the November 6th, 2012 general election.  It was voted in by a 61% to 39% landslide vote (5,285 votes for the unit system, 3,373 votes against the unit system)

Yet, the Hill County Commissioners court has neglected to act on your vote.  They (the commissioners court) have basically ignored Hill County’s democratic process. 

The audio of the Hill County Commissioners Court (click HERE to listen to the audio) of 26 September, 2013 is very “telling” as to how the commissioners have regarded your landside vote.

The Commissioners Court of 26 September, 2013 is one week prior to implementing the “Unit System”.  It is obvious listening to the audio, that over the past year, they (the commissioners court) have done nothing towards implementing your vote.

Don’t be misguided by the thinking and “nay-saying” that the “Unit System” is not working for Hill County.  The only reason it is not working is because the commissioners court has willfully ignored it’s implementation.

Below are some of the benefits of a properly implemented “Unit System” and these benefits could be realized for Hill County if your commissioners court had faithfully executed “the will of the people”.

Key points

60 Texas counties are managed with Unit-Road

1) Rids us of a business model that is over 177 years old and operates as four autonomous “silos of operations” (four precinct barns).  The voted “out” business model (commissioners as a “road commissioner”) offered no economies of scale and ability to undertake strategic countywide projects

2) Provides engineering and program management expertise

3) Rids duplicate facilities (4) operating autonomously. Excess inventory of capital equipment creates wasteful “idle” time and equipment underutilization. Example: At one time, Hill County’s Roads & Bridges Programs had more pickup trucks (30) than employees (26)

4) Creates equipment procurement standards and oversight to avoid gross duplication and hodgepodge of different equipment models . Training and repair costs are reduced. Example: Southwest Airline’s business model has exclusive fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft

5) Allows for an equipment usage tracking program to align efficiency of operations, scheduled preventive maintenance and projected procurement. Tracking equipment usage is essential to determine if equipment is being fully utilized. In an efficient road and bridge program, equipment that is being under-utilized would be moved to an area with more demand, but with “silo” system and with no usage rate data, this is not possible

6) Establishes standards in personnel employment. Four precincts meant four separate sets of employment and discharge—liability

7) Develop needed continuity. Such was nonexistent in precinct system . In past 30 years, Hill County has elected 16 different Commissioners

8) Consolidated standard vehicle maintenance program. All county vehicles/equipment under one program

9) Prevents “duty bound” mentality to spend all annual budget allocations

10) Central management brings “oversight” with procurement decisions and not based on individual Commissioners’ (four) preferences

Mike

Unit System discussed at September 26th Commissioners Court

Dear fellow Hill County Citizens,

Just click the title to listen to the Commissioners Court audio.

Audio of Unit System Discussion at September 26th Commissioners Court

During the general election of November last year, Hill County voters overwhelmingly voted-in to change a business model dated from 1836 (yes, well before motor vehicles, telephones or even the telegraph) to one appropriate for the 21st Century (Unit-Road System). County Judge Justin Lewis (who presides over the Commissioners Court) had 11 months to prepare for the implementation of Hill County’s Unit-Road System.

The audio recording from the Commissioners Court meeting of 26 September, 2013 (1 week prior to the new program’s implementation), clearly demonstrates  ABSOLUTELY nothing was accomplished in the past 11 months regards implementing your choice for roads and bridge management in our county.

The audio (see above) is approximately  45 minutes in length and I would encourage you to take the time to review it.  But if you don’t have that much time, just listen to the first 10 minutes  or so.  After listening, I ask you… Is this lack of action a representation of a government, “…of the people, by the people, and for the people”???  WHERE was/is County Judge Justin Lewis during this pivotal period in Hill County?

Mike Hendricks
5th generation family
Farm established 1852

Unit System – A better approach to roads and bridge management in Hill County

Dear Community Leader,

Taxpaying citizens of Hill County continue to fund a $5 million annual Road & Bridge Maintenance Program administered by Hill County Commissioners using a business model designed over 100 years ago. This program has four precinct-specific components that work independently (“Silos of Operations”). This antiquated system produces four separate standards in maintenance, procurement, training, safety and employment. There are many examples of waste and inefficiency caused by this outdated “Silos of Operations” plan. One recent and visible example was the Commissioners Court’s decision to purchase five (5) new patrol vehicles (SUVs, no less) for County Constables and Emergency Management at a cost of $155,000 hard-earned taxpayer dollars, while the Sheriff Office is forced to deploy vehicles having over 200,000 miles in service. The aforementioned agencies are not “first responders” and should not have been given priority with new SUVs over the Sheriff Office’s needs. This is just one example of how our county’s present century old business model continues to allow expensive procurement decisions to be based on personal, subjective or political motives.

An alternative centralized management approach would be advantageous because it would provide a mechanism for objective assessment of competing needs in capital equipment purchases. Under such a model, an assessment committee would be formed to represent all county agencies utilizing capital equipment. Objective data such as mileage, usage rates or engine hours would be reviewed to determine actual need. This objective approach is not possible under our county’s current organization, with five politically motivated purchasing agents (the County Judge and four Commissioners).

I would like to invite interested parties to visit www.hillcountyroads.com to learn how we as taxpaying citizens can stop this waste and inefficiency, and bring our county into the 21st Century. At our website, readers will learn about the benefits of the proposed “Unit-System” for county road maintenance and how it will make our county government efficient. Please consider signing our petition in which 925 signatures are required before June 30 so that we the voters can decide how our hard earned tax dollars are spent.

Sincerely,

Mike Hendricks, 5th Generation Hill County Family (farm established 1852)
Candidate for Hill County Judge

Development of Information Technology (IT) in Hill County is a Flop

Dear Citizens,

Hill County Commissioners Court continues to prioritize into the county budget the employment of two Information Technology (IT) specialists from Dallas (previously worked for Dallas County government) working directly for County Judge Justin Lewis, at a total annual compensation (salary with health & retirement benefits) of more than $135,000. Moreover, their duties do not encompass several of the county’s major computer users, resulting in additional and ongoing taxpayer expenses such as County Assessor-Tax Collector.

In addition to compensation, the annual budget shows $80,000 for “Training and Mileage Reimbursement” and “Contract Services” along with $75,000 for “Capital Outlay”. Just the IT position salaries and training/mileage since 2006 have cost Hill County taxpayers nearly one and half million dollars ($1,500,000).

Interestingly, the county’s annual IT budget totals $611,000, with nearly half ($302,000) devoted to software and maintenance, but that’s another interesting story. Might it have been more cost effective for the Commissioners Court to outsource the county’s IT service requirements? We’ll never know because the Commissioners Court failed to conduct a common sense cost analysis for IT services. A more transparent approach would call for a county computer user committee to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for IT services. (NOTE: At one time the county had a computer user committee, but it was disbanded following the employment of these IT specialists). The RFP would then be submitted for bids resulting in a one-time expense to meet the county’s needs, perhaps followed by oversight by a nominally salaried IT person for ongoing computer maintenance or even approach Hill College to develop a work-study program. RFP’s in government and private industry are used specifically to avert ill-fated decisions, especially by those not familiar with the technology of modern information systems (i.e. our elected Commissioners Court).  The RFP approach would have avoided the present situation in which Hill County taxpayers are paying an ever continuing $135,000 annual compensation and $80,000 for training for two IT positions (total $215,000).

The Commissioners Court’s decision to hire two IT employees working directly for County Judge Lewis did not require a public bid (an easy but expensive way around the RFP process). Those living in Hill County for the last few years will recall the Commissioners Court’s purchase of a funeral home for $450,000. While the expenditure was a waste of taxpayer funds, at least there is a tangible piece of real property to show for it. The funeral home purchase pales in comparison to the Hill County Information Technology program expense.

What do Hill County tax payers have to show after spending millions of dollars on a “going nowhere” IT program, with more expenses planned? Without correction, Hill County taxpayers will continue to pay $611,000 each year for an ongoing dysfunctional program simply because our elected Commissioners Court failed to follow a common sense and proven method of procurement (RFP).

We, Hill County voting citizens, will have an opportunity to vote and change how business is conducted in our county government on  March  4th.   It’s your hard earned money.

Sincerely,

Mike Hendricks, 5th Generation Hill County Family (farm established 1852)
Candidate for Hill County Judge

Unit Road System Status

“…of the people, by the people, for the people…” Abraham Lincoln 1863.

In November last year, Hill County citizens overwhelmingly voted to bring Hill County into a new paradigm for maintaining the roads and bridges. The previous Roads & Bridges Maintenance Program business model was designed in 1836 where each of the counties’ elected commissioners managed a maintenance facility (aka “four independent silos of operations). Innovation brings change and since 1836 multiple innovations have occurred in our society. Technology has advanced far beyond what the officials in 1836 could have imagined as has expediency of communication through modern methods. In the 1800’s, it would have taken days to travel across Hill County. Today, we can travel through the many county roads in just a few hours.

Change is not easy for most people. However, with the paradigm shift there is opportunity. Our elected Commissioners Court have been given an opportunity to “lead” and develop a “Unit-System” that could be the best in Texas. There is opportunity to design a cost efficient system that reduces redundancy in equipment and allows tax dollars to be invested into improving the quality of life for Hill County citizens in numerous areas. While there may be some comfort in holding on to the “old days”, embracing innovation is defined by most as progress. The citizens of Hill County have cast their vote for progress in the way our roads and bridges are maintained. As a citizen and individual, I can appreciate the painstaking road to make the changes, but I trust our elected officials are committed to fulfill their role as public servants in implementing the voice of the people.

Mike Hendricks, 5th Generation Hill County Family (farm established 1852)
Candidate for Hill County Judge