By Alton Porter
Houston County real property owners can expect an increase of just under 3 percent in their next property tax bills.
The Houston County Commissioners Court unanimously voted at a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 8, to set the county's proposed new property tax rate at 55 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation.
The proposed rate of 55 cents is down .4 cents from the 55.4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation the commissioners considered at a budget workshop last week.
The current county property tax rate is 52.4 percent per $100 of assessed value.
recinct 2 Commissioner Willie Kitchen offered the motion to set the proposed new rate and Precinct 4 Commissioner Kennon Kellum seconded the motion.
Immediately following action on that matter, the commissioners unanimously slated two public hearings on the proposed new property tax rate to be held Tuesday, Aug. 22, and Tuesday, Aug. 29. Both hearings are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
The commissioners agreed the proposed 2.6 cents increase in the tax rate is needed to support the county's proposed fiscal year 2018 budget, which projects $14.5 million in both anticipated revenue and requested expenditures.
In other action at the meeting, the commissioners unanimously:
• Voted to approve a Hotel Occupancy Tax Application and Interlocal Agreement allocating $2,000 to organizers for the 81st annual World Championship Fiddler's Festival, slated Sept. 22-23, which is expected to draw an attendance of 2,000 people;
• Passed a motion made by Kitchen – seconded by Precinct 1 Commissioner Gary Lovell – approving renewal of the Affordable Care Act Reporting and Tracking Service, which tracks county employee' participation in the health insurance plan and is conducted by Texas Association of Counties on behalf of Houston County.
The regular commissioners court meeting followed a second workshop on the county budget, at which jail and other requested expenses in Sheriff Darrel Bobbitt's section of the budget were discussed at length.
In addition, a request by Judge Pam Foster Fletcher, of the 349th District Court, for a salary increase for one of her employees was discussed at the workshop, as was a request submitted by Precinct 2 Constable Kenneth "Red" Smith for his community services budget and a request by Precinct 1 Constable Morris Luker to combine functions he performs into a full-time employee position.