Conroe, October 2 – Precinct 3 Constable Ryan Gable’s request to carry forward unused salary and benefit funds from his Constable Precinct 3 operating funds gave rise to quite the bureacratic snafu at the Tuesday, September 26, 2017, meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioner’s Court. Fortunately, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack suggested a solution that pulled the law enforcement agency out of the bureaucratic grasp of County Auditor Phyllis Martin’s tentacles.
Gable merely requested that $81,700 of unused salary benefits be moved to two other sub-accounts for his department, approximately $28,000 for safety equipment needed for the Internet Crimes Against Children program and the remaining funds for vehicle maintenance needed as a result of issues that arose during the Harvey storm. Martin, however, initially told the Commissioners Court during the meeting that there was a “discrepancy” between her accounting numbers and Gable’s.
The seeming discrepancy arose because Martin had charged approximately $62,000 to Gable’s payroll for the overtime compensation the Commissioners Court had approved for salaried employees who worked longer hours during Tropical Storm Harvey. Instead of taking those funds from contingency, which the County hopes will gain 100% reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Martin swept those funds from Gable’s regular payroll account. With the salary funds plus the ancillary benefits, that put Gable’s entire payroll account in the red for the last two weeks of Fiscal Year 2017, which ended September 30.
At first, Martin claimed Gable only had $6,000 of funds available for the equipment and vehicle maintenance, while Gable insisted that his Department was entitled to the full $81,000.
Martin and Gable never agreed upon the actual amount of the funds which were incorrectly “swept” from Gable’s payroll account for his Constable’s Department, but Noack resolved the issue by making a motion to permit Gable the return of the amount swept for the overtime compensation and permit him also to issue purchase orders for the equipment and vehicle maintenance before the end of last week.
It was an accounting problem which Martin should never have allowed to occur. Gable, his staff, and Noack correctly insisted upon the return of the funds to the Constable, Precinct 3, payroll account.
It was also another example that when government acts outside of law enforcement or national security, government usually messes it up.