Gregg County Pct. 3 Commissioner Gary Boyd has spent years working for the people in and around Kilgore. Now, as he approaches the end of his final term in the office, he’s taking time to look back over his accomplishments and thank his constituents for their support.
Speaking to Kilgore Rotary Club at their weekly meeting Wednesday, Jan. 5, the commissioner said his years in county government had been enjoyable, for the most part.
“I’ve really enjoyed serving you. I have to be honest about that,” Boyd told Rotarians, noting his decade-long tenure as county commissioner had been a rewarding experience, despite what some folks may think about the job.
“Everyone says ‘well, you get a lot of phone calls. You get a lot of complaints.’ Surprisingly, I have not had a lot. Overall, it’s been a pleasure to serve and I’ve enjoyed it.”
A former Kilgore City Council member and past Kilgore ISD trustee, Boyd was appointed to the commissioner’s court in September 2010 by Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt following the resignation of Bob Barbee. Boyd sought and won re-election in 2012 and 2016.
Rotarian Jerry Camp remarked on Boyd’s mission statement, posted on his county website, and Boyd commented on his thought process in creating and living up to the statement, which reads:
“My mission is to provide quality services that are responsive, respective, and effective in a fair and equitable manner that will enhance the quality of life for the residents of precinct three and for all Gregg County.”
“What am I going to do, vision-wise, to fulfill my word? To do what I said I will do in my mission statement?” Boyd said, explaining his thought process after writing the statement.
He kept the mission statement on his desk during his years as commissioner and also created a vision statement to keep him on track in fulfilling his promises to those in his precinct.
Learning all the ins and outs of his job took time, Boyd allowed.
“I’m just now, at the 7-8 year timeframe, I’m just now learning to be a good commissioner and learning what it takes. A county commissioner wears two hats. One hat you wear, you’re kind of the owner or manager of a small road construction company. You’ve got equipment and men and a responsibility for roads and keeping those up. You wear another hat when you walk into the courthouse. I’m not so sure that that is not the most important hat that a county commissioner wears because when we meet in court, we make decisions that affect not only our own lives but the lives of our fellow citizens and our fellow taxpayers, certainly our employees, not only in the near term but for a long time to come.”
Each of the 254 counties in the state of Texas is divided into four precincts along population lines. Commissioners from each precinct, along with the county judge, make up the commissioners court for each county.
The court is charged under state law to be the financial administration hub for each county. Each court acts as a subdivision of the state, Boyd said. As such, county commissioners have to work within the boundaries of state law when making decisions for the county.
Boyd noted it had been a unique experience working for Gregg County, which is unusual among many Texas counties for having zero debt and by paying for all of its planned projects in cash. He adopted a mindset of “doing more with less” to work in accordance with this method of funding county projects.
He also had a specific goal for his time as a commissioner.
“I made a pledge that I would leave Gregg County in better shape than I found it. I didn’t try to attach specifics to that. I just said I want to leave my precinct in better shape than when I got it. It was not in bad shape but I wanted it to be better.”
Boyd described the scale of his precinct, which runs up Hwy. 42 towards White Oak to the Upshur County line and reaches south, including most of Kilgore, Kilgore ISD White Oak, the White Oak school district, Gladewater, Sabine, Clarksville City and Warren City.
He aimed to focus on three areas of improvement in the precinct: working on the major thoroughfares and roads in the precinct, logistics of work crews and equipment and navigating the demands of the job in a four-day work week. Focusing on efficient mobilization and planning with work crews helped him meet those demands, he said.
He closed his speech by echoing Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt’s thoughts regarding the operations of small counties, school districts and cities in the midst of demands from legislators in Austin.
“(Small counties) are in jeopardy,” he said, adding many legislators in Austin have an attitude of “we know best” when it comes to making statewide decisions.
“We need to be on our toes about that,” Boyd cautioned, pointing to recent changes in state law regarding the way Texas counties are allowed to call for property tax increases.
He praised Gregg County’s fiscal responsibility, describing the extra funds the county kept on hand as a “savings account” which can be used to keep the county in good financial standing and free of debt.
Boyd will remain in office through Jan. 2021, noting he has “one or two” more projects he would like to see completed before closing out his term.