A few weeks ago, La Marque city officials were apprised of a half million dollar budget deficit, even after a tax increase is applied in the coming fiscal year. Now comes the news that La Marque is unable to account for as much as $2 million in federal disaster relief funds received after Hurricane Ike. It’s likely that the city will have to pay at least part of the money back.
The fiscal mismanagement in La Marque is increasingly appalling. In the case of the hurricane relief money, it appears that the funds received were not placed in a special account or otherwise earmarked for specific projects, so there is no proof the money was spent as FEMA intended. The Galveston Daily News reports that in at least one case, the money is shown as having been spent, but the project in question was never completed.
The mayor, Bobby Hocking, told the News that he thinks the money might have been used to balance the city’s budget in the wake of Hurricane Ike.
These are the kinds of gimmicks and problems that signal a much deeper problem, and shouldn’t be borne by taxpayers. The city may now be on the hook with the federal government, and it already can’t afford its operating budget; every penny is already needed to keep the city from calling for legendarily high taxes. La Marque needs to clean house and audit thoroughly – what sorts of financial issues may be uncovered down the line could be awfully frightening.