HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman says there's currently around $988,000 left from his allocated budget from the last fiscal year; funds which he planned to use in the future for new equipment and to fill positions within his department.
"I can't control when we have a police chase and total a patrol car, I can't control when laptop computers go down. Right now, I have deputies whose bulletproof vests are getting ready to expire and once they expire, they're not as effective," Herman said.
Last year, Harris County Commissioners and Judge Lina Hidalgo decided that any leftover money should be returned to the general fund, and Constable Herman says he's been made aware that the same thing could happen Tuesday, which is the deadline to set a new budget for the 2023 fiscal year.
"They have chosen to have a bureaucrat that knows nothing about law enforcement to decide my finances and how I spend my money," he said.
Constable Herman argues that taking leftover funds from law enforcement budgets is against a newly passed Texas law, Senate Bill 23, which states no law enforcement funding can be taken and reallocated. When leftover funds were taken last year, Herman filed a complaint with the state. In that case, the Texas Comptroller ruled in his favor and called for Harris County commissioners to return those funds, or hold an election to obtain voter approval.
Harris County Commissioners responded to that ruling, Commissioner Rodney Ellis saying in a statement:
"Every Harris County law enforcement agency has received a budget increase since 2018, even as we've been forced to make hard cuts elsewhere."
Herman says if his office's leftover funds are taken again we can expect to see yet another complaint filed with the state shortly after.
"They're going to tell you my budget has increased, just because your budget has increased, doesn't mean you weren't defended," Herman said.
A meeting is set to be held Tuesday at 2 p.m.