Commissioners Table Proposed Tax Rate

Am. Legion Proposes Wall Honoring First Responders

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – It may be back to the drawing board as Houston County continues with its budget preparation. During a meeting of the Commissioners Court of Houston County, held on Tuesday Aug. 9, an agenda item to approve the proposed tax rate of 0.54190 was tabled after it was discovered pension/retirement plans for retired employees would cost more than anticipated.

Houston County Auditor Melissa Mosley explained the matter to the court and said the county’s current plan would cause the tax rate to rise by 2.1 cents. Recommendations had been made to modify the plan by the county’s Human Resources Committee, but were tabled for further deliberation.

Following the pension/retirement discussion, County Judge Erin Ford addressed an agenda item concerning the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 tax rate as well as establishing dates for public hearings.  “We’ve already established a budget workshop, but if we are below the effective rate, do we need to have any more?” he asked.

Mosley replied, “No, but the court needs to set what the proposed rate will be.”

With the earlier information provided on the county’s current retirement policy, Judge Ford made a motion to table the matter in order to conduct an additional budget workshop. The motion to table the matter was approved and the proposed rate will be re-addressed during the Aug. 23 Commissioners Court meeting.

Houston County’s current tax rate is .50400 per $100 of property valuation. The initial proposed tax rate for FY 17 in Houston County was .54190. The FY 17 effective tax rate for is .54193 per $100 of property valuation and is loosely defined as the amount of taxation needed to fund the same level of services and operational expenses as the previous year.

Prior to the court’s adjournment, American Legion Post 134 Commander James Meacham spoke to the commissioners about an idea recently discussed at an American Legion meeting. “We had an executive meeting the other day at the American Legion. One of the guys said, ‘Why don’t we come up with a wall (to honor) for first responders?’ WE have a wall for people who have served our country. What we want to do is donate a spot. We are not asking the court to do it. I just want y’all to help me take this seed and make this grow,” he said.

Meacham added he had received positive feedback from people whom he had discussed the idea. He went on to describe where the wall would be located and said, “In the city park, there is a sidewalk that goes up to our property line. It comes into our place where the (veterans) wall is and where the tank is. On both sides of that side walk would be a perfect place for first responders to put up that wall. I’m not saying they need to do it like we did it, we will work with them and help them anyway they can. We just want them to have a spot … these folks are going through stuff right here in the United States that we (veterans) went through.”

The first responders’ wall discussion was for informational purposes only and no action was taken on the matter. With no further business, the court session was adjourned at 10:45 p.m.

In other matters brought before the court:

  • The previous meetings’ minutes, budget amendments and the payment of bills accrued by the county were all approved.
  • Salaries for part-time and full-time jailers were approved.
  • The Houston County burn ban was extended.
  • The court approved the adoption of revised Houston County Historical Commission bylaws.
  • Willa Wooten was re-appointed as the Houston County representative to the Board of Trustees for the Burke Center.
  • A contract for the hauling of road materials for CR 4740 was awarded to Womack Trucking.
  • The court approved a license/lease agreement with Pritchard and Abbott, Inc. for tax collection software.
  • Approval was given for contract amendments with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.
  • Donations to the office of the Environmental/Community Service Officer in the amount of $120 were accepted.
  • The City of Crockett’s Fire Chief requested the court to rescind an interlocal agreement between the city and county for a common emergency management coordinator in order to eliminate redundancy. The matter was approved by the court.

The Houston County Commissioners Court normally meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 10:00 a.m. in the County Courthouse Annex. The public is welcome and invited to attend.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.