SAN ANGELO, Texas A month after the raid on the FLDS ranch in Eldorado, Texas, state agencies had racked up $1.7 million in overtime costs and are now footing a monthly bill of $1.3 million to keep some 460 children in state custody, a new report shows.
Presented to lawmakers Tuesday in Austin, the report details the overwhelming nature of the public dollars expended as a result of the April 3 raid at the YFZ Ranch.
Members of the Texas Legislature's Senate Finance Committee got what must have been the grim, albeit anticipated news during an interim meeting featuring top officials with the Commission on Health and Human Services.
All told the price tag which is continuing to be tallied because all invoices have not been received comes to a little more than $5.2 million. That includes local costs endured by county and city entities.
The city of San Angelo took the brunt of the local fiscal beating, chewing up a little more than $400,000 in expenses in part as a result of temporarily housing hundreds of children at a pair of makeshift shelters, as well as many of the mothers.
The report also warned that it is not over yet, detailing additional resources the state Department of Family and Protective Services will require as it continues to supervise children in custody, monitor family service plans being adopted in the Tom Green County Courthouse in San Angelo and work toward what officials say is the ultimate goal of reunification.
Requests by the child welfare agency detailed in the report include:
• Adding 70 more staff, including 42 more caseworkers and reducing caseloads specific to the FLDS custody case.
• Hiring 10 attorneys and/or legal assistants to facilitate the judicial process as the agency works toward an April 9, 2009, reunification goal.
• Hiring nine employees to coordinate the delivery of services to FLDS families.
The funding dilemma was already on the radar of Gov. Rick Perry, the state comptroller and the Legislative Budget Board. In April, a letter authorizing the transfer of interagency funds was disseminated by Perry, the lieutenant governor and house speaker to the comptroller, with an eye toward making emergency budget adjustments in the state's upcoming legislative session.
Texas operates under a biennial budget system looking two years out and thus can attempt to cover 2008 expenses through funds previously allocated for 2009.Both Perry and the chair of a legislative appropriations committee over health and human services have said they stand by the actions of the raid and they will make sure local entities and the state agency's costs are covered.