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Let’s talk transparency

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Sydney MurphySydney MurphyBy Sydney Murphy
Polk County Judge

The Polk County Commissioners Court strives to be transparent in all business decisions we make. Commissioners Court meets in open meetings every second and fourth Tuesday (unless rescheduled due to conflicts with holidays or Association Conferences). Commissioners Court agendas are typically posted at least four days in advance of a meeting and are purposefully explicit so that the public knows specifically which items will be discussed. Our agendas are posted to the county website and Facebook pages and the public is welcome to attend and may address the Court during the public comment portion of the meeting. At this time, any member of the public can speak to the Court for up to 3 minutes about any item of county business, whether it is on the agenda or not. The Court can listen, but cannot respond unless the item addressed is included on the agenda.

Since July 2018, because we know that the majority of the population cannot regularly attend our meetings, all Commissioners Court meetings have been streamed live on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7RSenHb7QBTPuqSuMzU5ZA. A link to each video is shared on the County’s website and Facebook page following the meeting and we encourage the public to follow these pages to stay abreast of county business. Every elected official is responsible for sharing pertinent information from their offices. However, we strongly encourage them and support their efforts to make documents and services more widely available online.

I encourage everyone to visit our website at www.co.polk.tx.us and browse all of the information available, as there is a trove of valuable tools and resources available from various county and district offices. Last year, we asked elected officials and department heads to provide information about their office, including their roles and responsibilities, and so far have posted several “Spotlight on Polk County” articles, which help to educate the public about the services each office provides.

A click on the county budget link, www.co.polk.tx.us/page/polk.budgets, will take you to all county budgets adopted since August 2006. The Government Finance Officers Association has presented a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award to Polk County each year since our first submission to the award program of our annual budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 1999. In order to receive this award, a governmental unit must publish a document that meets program criteria as a policy document, as an operations guide, as a financial plan and as a communications device.

Polk County also annually receives the GFOA Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for our Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports. This award program was established to encourage and assist state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal.

Texas County Progress magazine featured the Polk County budget and budget process in 2016 and again in 2021 as a document that stands out for our communication of the budget and what it actually means (out of 254 Texas counties). Find the 2021 article at https://countyprogress.com/vital-communication-tool/. The members of Commissioners Court are extremely aware of their fiduciary responsibilities to Polk County taxpayers and make every effort to provide clear and understandable information.

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