Oct 22, 2023
Battle over the budget
Newly elected Kendleton City Council member Rachel White attended her first
Newly elected Kendleton City Council member Rachel White attended her first council meeting on Tuesday, and she had lots of questions she wanted answers to — such as whether the council formally adopted the 2022-23 spending plan.
"So we do have a budget for 2022-23 and it was approved?" White asked.
"Yes," Mayor Darryl Humphrey Sr. responded.
"And I can get a copy of that?" White asked.
"Yes," he said.
Council member Carolyn Jenkins interjected, saying the budget had not been adopted.
"You do know the budget was not approved, right?" she asked.
"Yes, it was," Humphrey responded. "The budget was approved."
Jenkins asked whether the budget had been filed with the county clerk's office or the state.
"And after the budget was supposed to be approved, weren't we supposed to send it to the county clerk's office?" she asked.
"We do send our documents to the state, the county, we do get all that stuff into them," Humphrey said, reiterating "there was a budget approved. We all approved the budget."
If the council held budget hearings in the summer and didn't approve the budget, "then shame on the whole table," he added.
Jenkins insisted the council had tabled approval of the budget. "We were supposed to go back and approve it but we never did."
"Yes, we did," Humphrey said.
"No, we didn't," she insisted, adding, "And on top of that, it has not been filed with the county clerk's office."
"We’re not going to sit up here and argue," Humphrey said. "It was approved, with a couple of changes y’all wanted, or whatever, but the budget was approved."
During a council workshop in March, some council members refused to vote on the minutes of meetings from November and December. They cited the mayor's and city secretary's unauthorized pay increases as one reason. Those pay raises were included in the 2022-23 budget, the council members said, and they would not approve the budget or the minutes until it was straightened out.
One of those who objected to the minutes and budget was Jenkins.
During Tuesday's workshop, White noted the state law required the city to post the budget on its website, but she couldn't find it on there. Indeed, even the minutes of meetings are supposed to be posted on the website but White said she could not access them.
"When I went on the website, I didn't see anything about the budget being posted," White said. "I couldn't click on anything that would open up the 2021-22 or the 2021-2022 budgets," she said.
Humphrey wondered if the website was faulty.
"I know that (Texas Government) local code 102.005 states that the budget has to be recorded and filed with the county clerk," White continued. "So in my research in doing that, I did reach out to the county clerk and talked to (a county clerk's deputy) and she said she went back (and looked) and she said the city of Kendleton has never filed (a budget) with them."
Humphrey said he would check to make certain the budget had been filed with the county clerk's office and if it hasn't it will be.
However, Kendleton City Secretary Christina Flores assured the council she emailed the budget to the county clerk's office in October.
White wondered if the city could be penalized for not filing a budget by the deadline.
The city wouldn't be fined but might lose out on state and federal grants, White was informed.White asked if she could get a copy of the email that Flores sent to the county clerk's office in October.
White may not get the email.
A Fort Bend County deputy clerk told The Herald on Wednesday that she cannot find the email from the city of Kendleton or from Christina Flores.
"I’m not seeing an email," said Nicholette Ross, chief deputy of records. "I’m not seeing any emails at all (from the city of Kendleton or Flores)."
Ross said she also searched for a physical copy of the spending plan but could not find it in the files with the budgets of other communities.
"I couldn't find it in our files," she said, adding that she looked through the entire file cabinet in case the budget had been misfiled, and she couldn't find it.
Ross said she also looked through the clerk's online filings and couldn't find the budget. For that matter, she couldn't find any Kendleton budgets filed in the past three years — from Jan. 1, 2020 through June 7, 2023.
The budgets are posted on the Fort Bend County Clerk's website for public inspection. They can be found by going online to FortBendCountyTx.Gov and clicking on "I want to Search" for "Official Public/Vital Records" and then clicking on "Official Public Records" and then clicking on "Search Real Estate Index." At that point, readers can simply type in "Kendleton."
A search by The Herald for "Kendleton" between the dates of 01/01/2010 and 06/07/2023 revealed no budgets filed by the city of Kendleton.
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