Thursday, April 16, 2015

County Treasurer Founds NonProfit to Lever Local, State & Federal Money

A full time Tom Green County employee making $75,000 a year started a foundation to lever local, state and federal money.  Treasurer Dianna Spieker received a 13.8% salary increase last year, bumping her salary nearly $10,000.

I find it odd that the County would allow a full time employee to start a foundation, even one with lofty aims.  The County is the fiscal agent for a state grant that Spieker administers.  San Angelo Live reported:

The Department of State Health Services has contracted with Tom Green County through the TGCPBH to implement evidence-based interventions, through a community-coordinated approach.
The aim of the foundation is to:

“Through the foundation we hope to promote education that in turn reduces the cost of indigent healthcare provided by the tax payers, and increases the quality of life for these patients,” Spieker said.
For over a decade Tom Green County has taken millions in unused indigent healthcare dollars and used the funds for reserves and other projects.  The indigent care budget of 8% general tax levy has been a longtime boon to Tom Green County treasurers.

“We knew that the grant money would expire when we had our meeting back in 2013, we wanted to have this live on beyond what was being given to the county, so we needed to set up a non-profit status. 

The Tom Green County Partnership for Better Health's website states:

After the initial 18-month trial period, the program could be implemented in other areas of the state and Tom Green County could continue to see state funding

The foundation may be needed in our community but questions remain.  Will Spieker receive any payments or salary from the foundation in addition to her full time salary with the County?  Will she serve as Treasurer for the foundation, which could receive County funding? 

This development raises numerous ethical concerns, not a new development for Tom Green County Commissioners.  After Yantis Green's embezzlement escapades one might expect county legal advice to lean toward the squeaky clean. 

Spieker could be moving County funds to her foundation, which aims to help reduce the cost of indigent care, which may result in financial gain for the county and her. 

Public officials getting into the public-private partnership business raises numerous ethical questions. They are just beginning in this endeavor.

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