County Commissioners approved reduced tax rate

Aug. 9—The Anderson County Commissioners Court approved a reduced tax rate Monday, Aug. 8.

Judge Robert Johnston and Commissioners Joey Hill, Rashad Mims and Kenneth Dickson all voted in favor of the 2022 Proposed Tax Rate of $0.578540 per $100 valuation consisting of $0.503210 for M&O Rate and $0.075330 for the Debt Service Fund, dropping the rate by 3.2 cents, a 5% reduction.

Commissioner Greg Chapin was not present for the meeting.

The Court also approved the 2023 Proposed Budget of $24,155,339.

This budget will raise more revenue from property taxes than last year's budget by an amount of $1,521,168 which is 8.475% increase from last year's budget. The property tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year is $266,691.

A copy of the proposed budget is on file in the County Clerk's Office and is posted on the county website for public inspection. Any person may attend and may participate in the hearing regarding the proposed budget.

The Commissioners Court will host a Public Hearings on the proposed budget and tax rate at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 22 in the County Courtroom of the Anderson County Courthouse Annex.

"Despite increased cost everywhere, we were able to balance the budget and reduce the tax rate," said County Judge Robert Johnston. "We had increased cost in the jail, as far as medical and food services, as well as an increase in salaries. But we are very happy about our budget and it was possible because of continued economic development. We had a huge increase in new money and new properties, so not all of this was due to the appraisals. And next year Sanderson Farms will come off the abatement list and that will be economically good for the county as well."

The Commissioners approved a $2,000 salary increase across the board for county employees in the proposed budget, that if approved, will begin Jan. 1, 2023. The Court also gave members of the Sheriff's Office an increase in pay earlier this year.

"In the past 16 years that I've been here, I've never seen a tax decrease," said Mims. "I think with appraisals going so high, this was the best way to give our taxpayers some relief, by decreasing the tax rate."

The Commissioners approved its annual contract between Anderson County and Meals on Wheels of Palestine and awarded MOW a grant of $100,000 to be paid with American Rescue Plan Act Funds. Tri-County Meals on Wheels has served the elderly of Anderson, Cherokee and Rusk counties since 1977. They served 55,543 total meals in Anderson County in the fiscal year 2020-2021. The cost of these meals was estimated at $258,302. The cost includes food, food preparation, administration, transportation/delivery, salaries, phone, alarm system, building maintenance, utilities and other necessary expenses.

Although it was not on the agenda, the Commissioners and Judge Johnston met with Attorney James Allison in Executive Session. The Commissioners took no action when they returned to open session and adjourned the meeting. According to Allison, the Commissioners Court is allowed to hold discussion in Executive Session not listed on the agenda, as long as they do not take action on any items discussed.

During the meeting, the Commissioners also approved:

—the consent agenda items, including payment of the bills, budget amendments and utility crossing county roads,

—the final plat for Sexton Development LLC, located on Anderson County Road 2232,

—a proposal from Kofile for a Birth Record Preservation & Imaging Project for the County Clerk's Office for $51,821.15,

—the purchase of bunker gear in the amount of $16,130 for Palestine-Southside Volunteer Fire Department, to be paid with American Rescue Plan Act Funds,

—the purchase of communication and extrication equipment in the amount of $10,504.95 for Frankston Volunteer Fire Department to be paid with American Rescue Plan Act Funds,

—the purchase of equipment, including tools and truck sirens, in the amount of $823.77 for Neches Volunteer Fire Department, to be paid with American Rescue Plan Act Funds,

—reimbursement to Bethel-Cayuga Volunteer Fire Department for installation of a pump on Brush Truck 5272 in the amount of $3,231.33 to be paid with American Rescue Plan Act Funds,

—a quote for five emergency fuel tanks and the installation for Frankston Rural Water Corporation's generators, in the amount of $29,290, to be paid with American Rescue Plan Act Funds,

—to remove Item 800-100 from Inventory, which is Lot 3 Block 10 in Neches; at one time was the Neches Fire Station and was purchased by Buddy Starling from Anderson County in 1998, per ACAD, and was never removed from Inventory,

—the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Imposition of Optional Fees for the year 2023,

—the purchase of office furniture, not to exceed $15,000, for the Agriculture Building, 519 N. Sycamore Street,

—a quote from Neches Plumbing for an electric water heater for the building located at 904 Market Street,

—the purchase of a 2012 John Deere 6430 4x4 Cab Tractor, Serial Number 1L0630HKCH722353 — Tiger TRB50C-SS Broom Mower, Serial Number TB6771, priced at $38,000 for Precinct 2 Road and Bridge Department,

—the purchase of a culvert cleaner for Pct 2 Road and Bridge Department from Texas Road and Sign Supply in the amount of $4,995,

—and declaration of a WHELEN light bar, SN# 19809, as surplus to be sold at auction.