By Jan White
CROCKETT – On Monday, August 29, the Commissioners Court met to discuss and confirm the budget for the upcoming year.
The court was previously given three tax rates on which to base its budget: the “No New Revenue Rate” of 45.402%, the “Voter-Approval Tax Rate” of 47.474%, and the “De minimis Rate” of 47.549%.
In 2022, at a tax rate of 53.000%, property taxes budgeted were $8,436,470. The Voter-Approval Tax Rate of 47.470%, which the Court voted to use for the 2023 fiscal year, decreases the tax rate by 5.530% but still allows enough of a revenue increase to meet necessary budget expenditures. Based on that tax rate, the projected budget amount will increase by $429,647, to total $8,866,118.
Increases in the budget include items such as added health insurance fees, cost of living pay increases, adding employee positions, projected increases in utilities and insurance, improvements and renovations, and other various expenditures.
During the workshop, the court approved an additional $20k to go to the Juvenile Probation Department for detention. It was explained to the court that the cost of daily confinement has gone up considerably, but funding from the state has not increased exponentially.
Funding was also requested for a pepper gun system for the Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement officials felt that the pepper gun would be a more effective
deterrent than the taser guns currently used. The request was approved, pending the outcome of bids for the new equipment.
The last item agenda was the approval of the American Rescue Plan Essential Worker Premium Pay Order. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides direct relief to local governments through the United States Department of Treasury.
As determined by the Houston County Commissioners Court, all employees who meet the eligibility requirements designated by ARPA will receive a payment in addition to their regular salary. The pay scale set by ARPA is $2,000 for qualified full-time employees and $1,000 for qualified part-time employees. The payments, in the form of a check, are to be available to employees on August 31.