Williamson Co. DA slams commissioners for budget process

Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick addresses commissioners court on August 29, 2017. (Courtesy: Williamson County)
Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick addresses commissioners court on August 29, 2017. (Courtesy: Williamson County)

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — “I was elected to restore integrity, professionalism and experience. I can’t do that by remaining silent and allowing this process to continue.”

That was one of many bold statements Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick made to the county commissioners court at its Aug. 29 meeting.

“You neglect law enforcement and the administration of justice,” said Dick. “If you wanted to take care of our people and our community, you’d take care of the personnel first.”

Dick says his number one request for the new budget, a trial division chief, was denied. The salary would’ve cost the county $110,000. The court did give Dick money to retain two other positions, but Dick says his rant is also about other departments that were denied, like the sheriff’s office.

“There’s only so big a pie, now we got to cut that pie up,” explains County Judge Dan Gattis.

Of the new fiscal year budget, the general fund, which helps pay for salaries, 30 percent is being spent on public safety. Thirty-one percent of the entire budget will help pay down debt from projects that voters approved. “If we go out for a bond issue and we got parks and trails on there, they pass fast,” says Gattis.

Gattis says roads are also a priority. “We do spend a lot of money on transportation and infrastructure because we’re such a fast growing county.”

The new budget includes 35 new full-time employees, six of them will staff a new EMS station in Cedar Park. $10 million will fund Long-Range Transportation Plan corridor studies, with $7 million coming from the general fund and $3 million from Road and Bridge. It also includes about $11 million for capital improvement projects.

But Dick says the justice system needs to come first, especially when some of these road projects are decades away. “Justice delayed is justice denied, you tell a victim they can wait another year, one year is too long.”

To watch Dick’s full address to commissioners, scroll through the video to the 8:32 mark.

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