The Anderson County Commissioners Court Monday denied consideration of a voter-approval tax rate of up to 8%, which had created a lot of community interest.
County Judge Robert Johnston told those in attendance if they were there to address this specific agenda item, the county did not foresee a raise in taxes. Despite his declaration, four residents addressed the court, adamant that this was a not a good time to raise rates.
Due to COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott declared a disaster in the entire state, allowing counties to utilize the special taxing unit voter-approval rate of 8%. This allows up to 8% without a mandatory referendum. To have the option of considering a voter-approval rate of 8% for maintenance and operations, the Commissioners Court must act before Aug. 1. While no special notice or hearing is required, the Court must post and instruct this calculation.
Johnston said he had been advised by his General Counsel, of the County Judges & Commissioners Association of Texas, to place the item on the county agenda.
He said the county will file its budget on Friday.
“We are not expecting any increase in our budget, but if I had an increase in it and it went above 3.5% this had to be put out,” Johnston said. “So we preserve our right to have done that. I have never mentioned to anyone at anytime that we were going up on our rate.”
Commissioner Greg Chapin told the gallery he appreciated their attendance and concern in the county business.
“There’s a group out there, Anderson County Grassroots, that put some things out there that made some people jump to some conclusions,” he said. “If they would do their investigation and look over the last two years, there have been absolutely no tax increases, and present that to the public, see that we do fight for them.”
“This Commissioners Court supports y'all 100% and if this was a proposal that was going to be on the table, we would have presented it much differently, we wouldn't have snuck it through or slipped it on here,” Chapin said. “I would love for y'all to have more faith in us, or to call us and talk to us about it, instead of reading some of the garbage that’s put out there, that they don’t do their investigations correctly on.”
When the motion was called for, Chapin made a motion to deny the order. Commissioner Joey Hill seconded the motion. All present voted in favor of Chapin’s motion.
The Commissioners followed with an approval of an amendment to its tax abatement agreement with Fikes Wholesale, extending the abatement period by one year to 2022, after Johnston explained that Fikes had discovered a high-pressured natural gas pipeline during their construction and needed extended time to work that situation out.
During the meeting, the Commissioners also approved:
• The consent agenda items, including the payment of bills, budget amendments and various county office reports,
• Certificate pay for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers,
• Authorization for the County Auditor to go out for bids for a 13 month, one payment lease/purchase on 12 new Mack dump trucks,
• The County Judge submitting a request for unclaimed capital credits, checks issued to a customer that were never cashed, for Anderson County,
• And the purchase of a new desk for the Anderson County District Attorney.