By Greg Ritchie
HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Commissioner’s Court met for a regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 23 in Crockett and the burn ban was lifted at least for the time being.
After a prayer offered by Judge Lovell and pledges of allegiance to the U.S. and Texas flags, the meeting got under way.
The Court approved the minutes and the paying of bills before receiving the reports from the County departments.
The Court approved salaries for new and transfer employees including the Office Manager for the District Attorney’s Office, Deputy Clerk for the County Clerk’s Office and several positions in the sheriff’s office. (See related story in today’s Messenger about the new hiring at the Houston County Sheriff’s Office.)
Heath Murff, head of the Houston County Fire Marshal and Office of Emergency Management, told the court by video conference that the county had received enough rain already to consider cancelling the burn ban. As more moisture moved through the Gulf of Mexico and pushed moisture northward, Murff recommended ending the ban for now. The Court agreed to take the matter up again at a later date if needed.
The Court heard public comments about their pending purchase of new voting machines. One member of the public was worried these new machines might be unreliable and gave examples from other parts of the country. Judge Lovell pointed out that these machines give a receipt for every vote taken and are not connected to the internet. The machines were approved for purchase.
The Court held an open workshop for the 2023 fiscal year budget. The County has benefitted from increased property values in the are and was able to offer county employees a 6% salary increase. The Court also approved the purchase of pepper guns for the sheriff’s office.
Finally, the Court agreed to lower the tax rate in the county from its current 0.53 to 0.4747 cents. A public hearing will be held on the new tax rate at the next Commissioner’s Court meeting Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 9 a.m.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]