Hegar’s claim is a repeat of a fight that already played out between the comptroller and Harris County last August.
“They were wrong back when they tried this the first time — the comptroller and his allies — and they’re wrong again now,” County Judge Lina Hidalgo said before the court met in executive session Thursday.
Commissioners Court convened the special meeting to decide on a response to Hegar’s claim. In a 4-1 vote, the court authorized County Attorney Christian Menefee to pursue a lawsuit against the comptroller’s office. Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey, the lone Republican on the court, voted against the measure.
In a statement, Menefee confirmed his office will file a lawsuit against Hegar.
“Once again, Comptroller Hegar has abused his authority,” the county attorney said. “His math is wrong. His application of state law is wrong. There’s no explanation for it — he’s just flat wrong. If Hegar’s goal was to make headlines while insulting the basic intelligence of Harris County residents, I guess he achieved that. But we don’t plan to let him abuse his power. We’ll see him in court.”
The debate over law-enforcement funding in Harris County stems from the county’s decision to shift its fiscal year and budgeting schedule to start in October instead of March.
In 2022, the county passed a shortened seven-month budget that was in effect until the new schedule began in October. That short fiscal year has made it difficult to make year-to-year funding comparisons, and has resulted in the county and the comptroller’s office using different methods to analyze whether the constable’s funding has increased or decreased.
Under Hegar’s calculations, Heap’s “annualized” budget would have been about $48.9 million over 12 months — nearly $2.3 million more than the $46.7 million figure calculated by the county.
Hidalgo said Hegar came to an incorrect conclusion by dividing Harris County’s 2022 short fiscal year budget by seven months and multiplying that number by 12 to get the annualized budget. Instead, Hidalgo said, the comptroller should have calculated on the basis of pay periods rather than the number of months. That would require dividing the short fiscal year by 16 pay periods and multiplying that by 26 to cover the whole year, she said.
“We have 26-pay-period accounting and Comptroller Hegar should know that,” the judge said.
See here for the background. If the facts as stated above are accurate, then this really is another case of political math being used in place of, well, math. Which is what the Chron editorial board concluded a few days ago. No matter how you get there, bullshit still walks. The Press has more.