top of page

Investigation Check #1 - Was Newton County Broke last year???

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Was the county broke in September of last year leading into the transfer of leadership from Judge Kenneth Weeks to Judge Ronnie Cochran?


(WHAT WAS SAID)

> Judge Elect Ronnie Cochran, along with Commissioner Elect Powell, stated in 2022 that the county could not pay their bills in September 2022.


> Some county officials pointed out that the county was not broke and referred people to look at the county's bottom line, which showed over $10+ million in the bank.


(INVESTIGATION)

After further investigation, it appears that while there was $10+ million in the bank at the time, however, it does not account for large portions of the money already allocated to specific funds or investments. These pre-allocated moneys were not accessible to be used for anything other than their allocation. According to the below documentation provided by the County Auditor's Office, it appears that out of the $10+ million in the bank... Newton County only had access to $240,259.54 in the General Fund in September 2022 to cover the counties monthly bills.


(NEWTON COUNTY'S USE OF ARPA FUNDS)

According to Judge Ronnie Cochran, "They (the previous administration) used $2.3 million dollars of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds to float the county until January when the new tax levy was released. They paid the salaries/wages and the county's bills."


ARPA Funds were intended to help Covid affected counties recover from any losses during the pandemic at $200 per person throughout the county. Interested in ARPA, Go to - TAC - American Rescue Plan Information & Resources (county.org) to see a full breakdown of how the funds could be spent.


(NEWTON COUNTY'S MONTHLY OVERHEAD)

According to Commissioner Bubba Powell's statement (13:30) back in June, "About 4.7 months into the year, we were averaging on a monthly note... around $600,000 for bills for the county out of the General Fund." We encourage everyone to take time to listen to an interview with PCT 4 Commissioner Bubba Powell who begins to break down the county's budget starting at the 12-minute mark. (Bottom of Page)


(FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST)

Newton County Daily & the East Texas Banner recently sent in a Freedom of Information Request to Judge Ronnie Cochran's office and received the following by way of the County Auditor's Office.





FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

If you would like to know more about the freedom you have as a citizen to use the Freedom of Information Act...Go to




2 Comments


Joe Miller
Joe Miller
Sep 15, 2023

Great reporting! Investigation 1 is very important. I note a few things that you probably already know: 1. The date on the paper is 2023 instead of the time period in question. 2. The paper in question bears no signature of formality. 3. The cash position is not a complete picture of the finances. Complete analysis would require at Least a balance sheet. 4. I am not qualified to determine the proper uses of APAR funds, but it is hard to dispute using them without a legal rendering

Like

Love your reporting style! Journalism is what it is called!

Terri Woods

Like
bottom of page