Saturday, March 2, 2024

Former Hood County auditor reflects on 25 years with county

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For 25 years, Rebecca “Becky” Kidd served in the county auditor’s office in some capacity — she served seven of those years in the office of county auditor.

But after retiring in December, Kidd is ready to close the county checkbooks and start traveling and fishing with her husband, Gary.

“My husband retired the second year I got the job (as county auditor),” Kidd told the HCN. “He worked in printing, and he was driving to Saginaw every day, and he had done that for 22 years. He was tired of the drive, and he was ready to move on to a different chapter of his life. But from that moment on, he said ‘When are you gonna retire?’ ‘When are you gonna retire?’ and finally I thought ‘You know, I'll have 25 years in October of ‘23 — that should be the goal and just finish out the year and be done with it,’ so that's what I did.”

When Kidd was younger, she grew up all over Texas as her father worked for the oil company Haliburton, previously known as Brown & Root.

“My dad went where the business was and we followed him,” she said. “It’s funny — my husband’s dad was sort of in the same field, but they had a home base so his dad would work and come home when he could. My husband had the luxury of living in the same town and going to the same school. I did not. But my mom and dad were just really wonderful, loving people and they didn’t want to be apart, so I grew up all over Texas.”

While Kidd didn’t attend college until later in her career, she said it was not a mistake as her first marriage resulted in the birth of her two children: Justin and Heather.

“I had started taking college classes when I was an office manager at a homeowner’s association, as that was extremely boring in the winter,” she said. “I went back to school when I worked for Hood County and got my degree in accounting.”

It was during her time as an office manager for her homeowner’s association that Kidd was recruited for the auditor’s office — by none other than a former Hood County auditor.

"When I was working as the office manager (for my homeowner’s association) the board wanted to have an audit done of the money. I was on the board also, so they hired Larry Levine, who was the first auditor for Hood County,” Kidd explained. “He came in and he was telling me some things that I needed to do to protect me, and make sure that you have every invoice because the board members weren't really good about giving you invoices. I thought, ‘You know, I'd like to learn more about bookkeeping,’ so that started me going back to college, and then he came and audited a couple more years and he asked me to come to work for Hood County, and that's how it started.”

After Levine retired in 2005, Stan McBroom became the Hood County auditor until his retirement in 2017, which is when Kidd took the helm.

Kidd said the most challenging aspect of being the auditor when she first started her new position was learning the ropes, as McBroom was serious about retiring.

"He was done," Kidd said. “He was a very nice man. I enjoyed working for him, but he'd had enough. He said, ‘I'm going to retire,’ and we said, ‘Can we call you?’ He says, ‘Well, you can call me, but my phone will be at home, and I won't be.’ I didn't have anybody to train me so that was a challenging part, learning it on my own. But I guess it also made me a better auditor because nobody trained me their way either — and it didn't take me long to figure out how to do debt.”

She said one of the first things she did when she became the county auditor was cut budgets as there was still some “padding” remaining. She said during the second year, she saved the county $700,000 in the budget.

"I like things to be balanced. I like all my ducks in a row. Everything has to match. If there's a penny, I'm going to find it,” Kidd said. “I like to treat that money there like it's mine. When I started, I think we owed $32 million bonded debt in the Cresson bypass. Everything got an early payment. I wanted to pay off the last debt early, but I got them down to one-and-a-half million (dollars).”

Kidd said when she retired, she left the county in “good financial shape,” adding that employees still received free health insurance and decent raises during the time of her departure.

“I told them, ‘Don’t screw it up,’” she said, chuckling.

As Kidd closes this chapter of her life, she said the one thing she will miss the most is the people she got to know over the years.

“For the most part, (I worked with some) lovely people,” she said. “Hard working, honest and good people.”

Kidd described the new county auditor, Stephanie Matlock, as intelligent and said she’s going to do very well for Hood County.

“She texted me (a couple of weeks ago) and said she was having an issue with something, and I called her and told her where to find it,” she said. “I’ll help her. I know what it’s like to be there and not know what to do. Anytime she needs anything, she can call me.”

Now that Kidd has retired, she plans to focus her attention on other important matters: her family and the community.

“I'm on the Republican Women board, I'm on the board where we live, I'm going to be volunteering with Rancho Brazos, so I don't miss it,” she said. “Clint Head saw me at some political thing, and he said, ‘I bet you watched commissioner's court today.’ I said, ‘I didn't even remember there was commissioners court today.’”

All in all, Kidd said it was a wonderful experience and she was blessed to work with some amazing people. She added she will miss the people, but not the work.

“I don't miss work,” she added. “I thought I would. A year ago, I was dreading ... ‘Who's going to do this?’ ‘Are they going to remember to do that?’ because I'm vocal. But then I thought, ‘Somebody will come in here and it will get done. You need to have a life. You need to stop worrying about this.’ Finally, I got to a point where I thought ‘Well, OK, I'm good, I'm ready to retire,’ and the last six months was tough because I knew the end was in sight, but I was ready. I was ready to go, and I was happy that I was ready to go.”