Setting the budget is the most important thing the Quorum Court does. In 2021, COVID-19 has created new challenges and opportunities for navigating our revenue and spending.
Using COVID-19 Money for Community Relief
So far, Washington County has received from the federal government:
- $4.5 Million dollars from the CARES Act (November 2020)
- $9.1 Million in Emergency Rental Assistance (January & July 2021)
- $23 Million from the American Rescue Plan Act (June 2021)
Also on the way:
- $3.4 Million more in Emergency Rental Assistance
- $23 Million more from the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021
I believe we should use this federal money the way it was intended - to help the community through the COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues in county government do not want this to happen. Despite widespread public outcry... after spending $1.5 Million of the CARES Act money internally, Republicans on the Quorum Court voted to dump the remaining $3 Million into the General Fund Reserve, mixed in with the rest of the county's money where its future spending can't be tracked. There have been moves to spend nearly all of this year's American Rescue Plan money to expand the jail. And millions of dollars of Emergency Rental Assistance money is still sitting in the bank instead of reaching vulnerable renters.
There are so many important things we can do with this money to help relieve the worst effects of the pandemic. New and expanded affordable childcare, food relief, expanded broadband access in rural areas, affordable housing, alternatives to jail to provide treatment for people in crisis. These are just a few of the impactful ways these millions of dollars can be used.
Valuing Our Workforce
Dozens of county employees still make under $15 per hour. Our employees' pay grades haven't been adjusted since 2016, and are more than 10% lower than the local job market when it comes to similar jobs. We've seen over and over again how this is leading to high turnover rate and losing valuable people. This has a negative impact on everything from the roads to the court system.
Meanwhile, Republicans on the Quorum Court have voted to give massive raises to political cronies, including some of the highest-paid elected positions in the county. These are folks who are making six figures, including the County Chief of Staff, who serves double duty as head of the Washington County Republican Party.
I believe we should end perceived conflicts of interest and take care of our lowest-paid county employees first.
Contact All JPs
Unfortunately, as of July 2021, the Washington County Judge's office has disabled the "All JPs" email address. But, you can still send an email to all the JPs at once by clicking the handy button below: