The Madison County Journal
January 31, 2001
Sticking to the budget
process is crucial
Someone has to have the authority and responsibility to oversee
the collection and spending of all public funds. The recent problems
with the Madison County school system funding are due to a failure
by the board of education to properly monitor school spending.
There are now reports of county officials who are collecting
and spending funds without going through the board of commissioners
and the budgeting process. These funds are created through surcharges
on various fees and penalties, activity fees and other sources.
Most of these funds are dedicated to specific use. For example,
a surcharge on bail bonds goes to finance jail operations. Activity
fees are used to pay for recreational programs. Other surcharges
go to retirement programs for several elected officials.
All of these accounts need to be reported to the board for their
review and information. While they are dedicated to specific
uses, the board must have an opportunity to see that they are
used for those purposes. Any surpluses in these accounts should
be placed in the county's general fund.
One type of fund cannot be allowed. No county department or official
has a right to divert any undedicated funds for the use of their
department without going through the budget process. Even if
funds generated by one department are to be used within that
department, they still have to be reported and budgeted.
I have no reason to believe that such funds are being abused.
Everything I hear is that these funds are being spent for the
benefit of the citizens of this county, or to provide needed
benefits for county employees. That is fine.
But the fact that unreported funds are not being abused at this
time does not assure that future officials will not misuse them.
Nor do we, the people who pay these monies, know how they are
being used. To protect us from future abuse, and to assure the
rights of the people to be fully informed, all funds collected
by any department of county government must be reported, reviewed
and budgeted by the board of commissioners.
The only way we, the taxpayers, can be assured that our money
is being collected and spent properly is for all funds to be
reported, budgeted and published. It is, after all, our money.
We have a right to demand accurate accounting and supervision
of these funds. Every elected official and department head needs
to check their records and make sure all funds are "on the
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address
The Madison County Journal
January 31, 2001
A typical January
Things are progressing in typical fashion at the Richards house
Each member of the family celebrated the holidays with some type
of cold or sniffles. But that was just a portent of things to
come and after years of the same pattern, we all knew it.
Sure enough, as soon as my daughter Miranda returned to college
she promptly settled into the middle of a flu epidemic.
She called me on a Wednesday afternoon to inform me that several
in her dorm suite were falling victim.
"Are you sick?" I asked.
"No, (cough, cough) I'm not sick....I just wanted to warn
you about what's going on," she replied.
"You sound like you're getting sick," I said, my mother
radar picking up definite signals, with an ominous feeling in
the pit of my stomach.
"No, I'm fine," she assured me.
The next afternoon the phone rang again. (This in itself is an
unusual phenomenon - when things are fine I don't hear from my
daughter this often.)
She told me that she was now, sure enough, running a "low
grade" fever, but was "OK."
"You don't sound okay, why don't I come and get you?"
I offered. But she assured me that although she was having chills,
she would rest overnight and besides, she had an important day
in class on Friday.
Despite my better judgment, I agreed to wait.
About 8 p.m. I received another call this time the fever
was higher. Charles said we should go get her, despite the fact
that the fog outside was like pea soup.
Instead, I settled on calling her every few hours throughout
the night to check on her.
I picked her up as soon as possible the next day and drove her
straight to the doctor's office - where, through this new test,
she was pronounced to have the "flu."
Great, I thought, I've been riding around the entire afternoon
with the flu - not only that, but my car was literally "loaded"
with the infection - clothing, bedding and dishes - all that
my thoughtful daughter had brought home to disinfect.
I called ahead to let the guys know what we were headed home
with. I made a pit stop at the store for Miranda's prescription
and cough medicine, some Lysol, various other disinfectants and
Vitamin C lozenges for the rest of us.
When we arrived home, Miranda went to lie down while I unloaded
the car. No one else wanted to touch the stuff, besides, I was
Her loving brother Zack met us at the door with - I kid you not
a mask on. You know, one of those things you wear over
your nose and mouth to keep out the pollen and dust in the summertime.
Miranda told him she didn't know when she had felt so loved.
He responded by following her down the hall spraying Lysol and
telling her not to touch anything she didn't have to.
He took over as the "germ patrol." This, the same boy
whose room is a bona fide disaster area most of the time. He
chided us all about washing our hands and sprayed the bathroom
each time his sister came out of it.
Something must have worked for him. Charles came down sick the
next day and I now have a sinus infection, but Zack remains uninfected
with anything (so far).
But if things follow along on course, I know we are not through
After all, winter still has a way to go.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison