By: Sarah Snyder
REEVES COUNTY - Two Reeves County Commissioners remain AWOL. They're still refusing to show up to vote on next year's budget and the clock's ticking to get it passed. If they don't, the county reverts back to its old budget. NewsWest 9 wanted to find out what all of this means legally. NewsWest 9 sat down with the Ector County judge to find some answers.
There were several issues on next year's budget that commissioners Saul Herrera and Roy Alvarado didn't agree with. By not showing up to the meeting they're leaving the county budget in a lurch and that protest is what one West Texas judge is calling "unethical."
"It's a negative position to be in for the county because it really sends a negative message to your constituents that you're not going to show up to do what you're paid to do," Ector County Judge Susan Redford, said.
At stake is the 2011 tax rate and budget for Reeves County and without Commissioners Herrera and Alvarado the court couldn't vote. After several attempts to hold a meeting, the judge decided to haul them into a courtroom. But officials couldn't find them to serve a notice so Reeves County may have to default to last year's budget.
"We'll have to make some amendments to account for the increases in our health insurance and other items as well," Reeves County Judge Sam Contreras, said.
NewsWest 9 wanted to find out what this means legally so we sat down with Ector County Judge Susan Redford who explained the only way to force the Commissioners to show up in court is by issuing a subpoena but in order to do that officials have to be able to find them and so far they haven't been able to.
"The county itself has to go back to last year's budget and let's face it - last year's budget may not fit this year's needs," Judge Redford said. "It's going to be a real determent to the county and really hamstring them that way. It's unfortunate for the employees who were supposed to get raises and now won't get that because their Commissioners didn't show up."
Judge Redford says if they continue to not show up to meetings the judge could file a petition to have them removed from office and bring the case before a district court.
"I think this is a black eye to the image of county government," Judge Redford said. "If they can't get a quorum, everything stops. Your employees don't even get paid without a vote from Commissioners, so it could be very disastrous."
NewsWest 9 has tried several times to contact Commissioners Herrera and Alvarado to get their side of the story. Neither have returned our phone calls.