HOUSTON - Harris county constables are quietly furious.
After saving dollars in so-called "roll-over" accounts - a Democratic majority on Commissioners’ Court clawed back a portion of those surpluses into the general fund, which led some constables to report they would have to cut services and potentially layoff officers.
Judge Lina Hidalgo says the roll-over funds will be spent elsewhere to improve public safety, " With crime going up we can't afford to have these savings account. We can't. We've got to spend the money on tackling the rise in violent crime."
Precinct 5 Constable Ted Heap said, "The reality to me is I had 52 million dollars last year at this time, and at this time, this year I have 44 million dollars. And my numbers are; if you take my labor cost, my non-labor costs I have a deficit of $2.48 million. Which correlates into about 22 positions of officers."
While Judge Hidalgo calls it budget discipline, critics are calling it "defunding police".
Host Greg Groogan asks the panel: "What's your take on what's going down, is this just shifting surplus funds into the immediate fight against crime?