August 20 – The Montgomery County government’s head janitor, Lorena Garcia, clearly knew her comments about “sick building syndrome” by which she attempted to protect her Departmental budget through “fear-mongering,” were false, as documents The Golden Hammer obtained from sources inside the County government.
Readers may recall that Garcia took great umbrage at the recommendation of the Citizens Budget Committee that her top-heavy department bear substantial spending reductions. On July 25, 2017, Garcia warned the Commissioners Court during its regular meeting that the Citizens Budget Committee recommendations would result in “sick building syndrome” and the public getting sick in County buildings, because those recommendations would force reductions in custodial services.
Garcia, a protege of Wayne Mack who also has severe budget and financial problems in his Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 department, runs a very troubled department that is costing taxpayers approximately 300% of the national average for an operation of the size of Montgomery County’s government. In other words, Garcia is costing County taxpayers approximately $2 million per year through poor management. Of course, from Garcia’s perspective, that’s “other people’s money.”
The Fiscal Year 2018 County Budget did not include funds for construction of any new County buildings. Furthermore, during 2017, the County did not add new buildings to its massive inventory of bricks and mortar.
Nevertheless, only six (6) days after the County Commissioners Court “budget workshop” ended, Garcia issued a set of secret missives to County Department directors that:
“In order to accommodate some of the growth that the County has been experiencing we are going to be reducing frequency on some our non-high traffic areas.”
Incredibly, despite all of her scare tactics which Garcia threw out for public consumption that any reduction in custodial maintenance would cause the public to become sick, Garcia had actually planned to reduce the frequency of custodial maintenance in County buildings all along!
Garcia’s comments weren’t ignorance at all. They were bald-face lies seeking to manipulate public opinion.
The Golden Hammer awarded Garcia “The Golden Hammer Award” (plunger edition) for her comment that the Citizens Budget Committee could not possibly know or understand anything about the Custodial Maintenance Department’s Budget without discussing it with her.
On Thursday, July 27, however, Garcia ignored the possibility that the Citizens Budget Committee could possibly have obtained information about the Custodial Maintenance Department from a careful examination of:
- the Custodial Maintenance Department’s requested budget submission provided three months ago to the County Auditor’s Office
- Personnel Description Questionnaires, describing the duties and responsibilities of each person in the Custodial Maintenance Department, and which Garcia had filled out
- the County’s Consolidated Annual Financial Report for the Custodial Maintenance Department
- budget data for nine other counties showing that Montgomery County’s Custodial Maintenance Department is the most inefficient and top-heavy in management and administration of all of them
- national econometric data showing the mean and median cost of custodial services for buildings of various sizes.
Clearly, the County’s Custodial Maintenance Department is one, among several, which could benefit from some serious management from the County Commissioners Court. Considering that the County Commissioners each make $168,808 per year in salary, the County Judge make $169,689 per year, and Garcia makes $107,962 (plus more than $43,000 in County benefits), one might think that they would show a willingness to do their jobs.