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County Approves Lower Proposed Tax Rate

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By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTYHomeowners in Houston County received some good news following the Houston County Commissioners Court held on Tuesday morning, Aug. 25 as the commissioners approved the proposed tax rate.

Before the court approved the proposed tax rate, the commissioners approved setting a date for the proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget.

Tax Assessor Danette Millican informed the court, “We can do that the same day that you adopt the rate which is on Sept. 8. We will need to open the hearing, close it and then open Commissioners Court to adopt the rate. We can do it all on the same day.”

A motion was made, seconded and approved to hold a public hearing for the FY 2021 proposed budget on Sept. 8.

The next item concerned the approval of the proposed tax rate. The county’s proposed tax rate for 2020 is $0.53200 per $100 of property valuation which is less than (.008 or 1.48%) the 2019 tax rate of $0.54000 per $100 of property valuation.

According to information provided by the county, the average homestead taxable value in 2019 was $59,948 while the average homestead taxable value in 2020 is $66,075, an increase of 10.22%.

The tax on the average homestead in 2019 was $323.72 while the tax on the average homestead in 2020 will be $351.52, for an increase of $27.80 or 0.08%.

The total tax levy on all properties in 2019 was $7,863,094.28 while the total tax levy in 2020 will be $8,257,728.57, for an increase of $394,634.29 or 5%.

The proposed tax rate was approved unanimously.  

As the meeting continued, the commissioners discussed approving an agreement with Armstrong Forensic Laboratory pertaining to blood and controlled substance analysis for the Houston County Attorney’s Office.

“This has to do with the hemp versus marijuana issue that came about last June. The agreement doesn’t cost the county any money but what it does is lock in rates in case I need to ask for analysis from the lab to determine if something is marijuana or hemp. This lab does that. The DPS lab does it also but the problem with the DPS lab is they are working on their current backlog. Then, they will work on felonies and they have no idea if they will do misdemeanor cases or amounts, which is what I deal with. This company is only if we need it,” Houston County Attorney Daphne Session said.

The matter was approved unanimously.     

 In other matters brought before the court:

  • The commissioners approved the minutes from previous meetings.
  • The payment of bills and expenses incurred by the county were approved.
  • The Houston County Compensatory and Treasurer’s Reports were received as information by the commissioners.
  • Salaries for new and/or transfer employees were approved.
  • The court approved a plat for Pipeline Road Land Company Subdivision to be located on County Road 2125 in Latexo.
  • A donation of 340 gallons of milk and 117 boxes of produce for the Houston County Sheriff’s Office from Good Shepherd Church was approved by the court.
  • The court clarified Sheriff Justin Killough will continue to serve as Houston County Sheriff until Dec. 31, 2020.  

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

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