County Commissioners Compile Federal Wish List

After a spirited debate, Harris County Commissioners come up with a list of items that will be funded by 7-million dollars in federal stimulus cash. The agreement comes before the application deadline. Pat Hernandez has the story.

This is how Commissioners agreed to spend the stimulus money: over 6-million dollars for an electronic medical record system for county inmates, 200-thousand dollars for safety equipment and training for the Harris County Sheriff’s Dept, 180-thousand for healthcare for the homeless, over 600-thousand for crime lab services for the ME’s office and over 400-thousand dollars for the district
attorney’s office. Commissioner Sylvia Garcia voted against that part, and told colleague Steve Radack that she thought the money could be better spent.

“It seems to me we ought [to] fund things that we don’t have other dollars available for, rather than using dollars from the stimulus package for things that we can handle locally.”

Radack: “Well. I think it would be nice to have a whole lot more stimulus money, but I think some people are seeing this as a kind of a wish list.”

County Judge Ed Emmett says they tried to spread the federal money around to the greatest benefit…beginning with the jail.

“The stimulus doesn’t come close to providing enough to do all the things we’re going to have to do at the jail, so, that was a good start. Healthcare for the Homeless is a great program. Everybody supports it.  And then of course — the medical examiner — we’ve all seen the importance of them recently. And then, the district attorney had a number of projects that she wanted. So it’s 7.6-million dollars basically that’s going to be used, for the most part, for the jail — to get us up to standards.”

Harris County now sends its list to the city of Houston, which will formally make the submission to the U.S. Justice Department.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.