SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - By Jena Johnson - email
SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - It's a $1.6 million loan used to purchase road maintenance equipment that had nearly 50 angry residents confronting San Augustine County Commissioners Monday morning.
"It's our money," one concerned resident said. "It's 8,000 citizens' money, 20 percent which are in the poverty level. It's a big amount to subject all of us to without any input from the people."
Charles Bradburry and Bill Simmons are up in arms over what they call ridiculous purchases.
In a meeting Monday morning, they told commissioners they've forgotten who's footing the bill.
"These are our tax dollars," Bradburry said. "It's the public's money and we're not talking about a small amount of money. They just spent $1.6 million with very little planning."
"It's the highest budget proposal in the history of San Augustine County," Simmons said.
At the center of the county's outrage is a $45,000 pickup truck, fully equipped with a tool box, leather seats and even a rear-view camera. Commissioner Dale Mixon said he needed it.
"I use this truck to work with, to pull a trailer, a gooseneck trailer," Mixon said. "We pull equipment. We pull culverts. It's not a drive-around, stay in the café with. It's to work with."
Receipts we obtained show exactly what the county paid for each truck. Mixon's truck is more than three times as expensive as the cheapest truck they purchased.
"It's time it stopped," Bradburry said. "It's time that someone assisted them on getting a handle on the fact that this is a public entity and they're here to serve the public."
Not everyone's as upset over spending. Taxpayer Tom Townsend says he understands.
"Everyone's raking these guys over the coals, but I want to commend them," Townsend said. "They could have bought Japanese. We needed trucks. They bought Fords."
Even during hard times, commissioners insist it is a justified expense.
The county's deficit is reportedly at $400,000. Residents say the recent $1.6 million loan isn't helping things.