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Local News

February 10, 2014

Debate continues: Horn, Minter answer Hunt County Judge questions



Jerry Minter

Question 1: A few counties in the state of Texas have formed public defenders offices in lieu of judges assigning attorneys for indigent defenders. The merits of such an office are subject to debate: while supporters point out that having an office potentially saves money and make it easier for commissioners courts to prepare budgets, detractors say that such offices result in a lower quality of legal care. Do you believe that Hunt County should form a public defender’s office?

First, cut costs associated with indigent defense cases.  The current rate of $100 per hour with no cap should be reduced to $50 per hour with a $500 cap.  My opponent voted in 2010 and 2013 to maintain the higher fees.  The lower rate will generate an estimated savings of up to one million dollars annually.  Hunt County pays the highest rate in North Texas.  Local lawyers would benefit from the reduction in fees due to the fact that many metroplex lawyers would cease seeking the cases, allowing them an increased case load.  Savings from reducing the fees could be re-allocated to restoring the commissioners road budget that has been reduced significantly over the past few years, Children’s Advocacy Center and Public Safety.  If fees are not reduced, the commissioners court should form a public defender office.

Question 2: When preparing the Hunt County budget, what is your biggest priority in regard to funding?

The biggest priority in funding the budget is Public Safety.  Citizens want to feel safe at all times.  They expect the commissioners court to provide the sheriff’s office with adequate equipment and technology needed to do their job.  One of my platform issues is a grant writer position be added to seek various grants.  Public safety grant funds are available for equipment and technology thereby relieving the taxpayer of that expense.  Close behind is the need to restore the commissioners budget for road and bridge maintenance which has been reduced significantly over the past few years.  Citizens deserve roads that are properly maintained so as not to be unsafe or damaging to their vehicles. These are my biggest priorities because they relate most to the quality of life for citizens. 

Question 3: What is the biggest challenge facing Hunt County in the next four years, and what would you do to meet this challenge?

The biggest challenge facing Hunt County in the near future is four-fold.  First is job growth.  Concentrating our efforts on economic development will bring industry and large businesses to Hunt County thereby creating jobs.  I truly believe job growth will come first, followed secondly by population growth.  We will see rooftops appear in all parts of the county, but primarily in and around Caddo Mills and West along Hwy 380 between Greenville and Floyd.  Thirdly is the need to address traffic.  We must be pro-active in requesting TXDOT funding for our regional transportation needs and not wait, as neighboring counties, until there are too many automobiles and not enough pavement.  Finally, and this will be the greatest challenge, is the need to provide county services to a growing population.  We will need to add staff and space.  That is why one of my platform issues is to form a citizen’s advisory committee to conduct a feasibility study regarding procuring a site for future facilities.

Question 4: Do you believe that Hunt County should implement a unit road system? Why or why not?

I believe there is merit to a unit road system.  Research shows that 79 counties in Texas currently use the unit road system.  Combining equipment and personnel proved to be cost effective.  The average savings to counties comparable to Hunt County was 16% of their total road and bridge funds.  Hunt County road and bridge funds is approximately six million dollars.  Potential savings would be approximately one million dollars.  If elected to the office of Hunt County Judge, I would discuss this issue with each commissioner individually.  The ideal situation would be to hire a road and bridge engineer to be in charge of work crews and equipment, developing and constructing a standardized road system throughout the county, providing engineering services and oversight of county bridge projects. This will allow commissioners to devote more time to administrative duties.  Some counties have opted to enter into an 18-24 month unit road system test program.  Then commissioners vote whether to continue or discontinue the unit road system.



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