By Tony Farkas
GROVETON — The Deep East Texas Council of Governments will spend about $21.5 million dollars in the next fiscal year in its mission to assist the counties in the area.
The budget was approved by members at an Aug. 26 meeting, which was held in Groveton. DETCOG meetings rotate through counties.
Executive Director Lonnie Hunt said the budget reflects a 30.26 percent rate for indirect costs — administration, finance and IT — which is the lowest it has been in years.
“Most of this is very similar to last year,” he said.
The budget reflects revenues of about $21.7 million.
Separately, Hunt discussed problems that he felt occurred in the U.S. Census, which impacted all counties except Nacogdoches, Polk and San Jacinto negatively.
Those figures show that Polk County grew by 4,710 on the high side; however, Newton County dropped 2,228, or more than 15 percent.
Overall, the Census figures show that there was a 1.36 percent dip in population for the 11-county DETCOG region, while Texas grew at a rate of 15.91 percent, or more than 29 million people. Hunt said that Census was biased against rural areas, meaning the process was flawed.
He said that many entities actually showed an increase in population, but the only figures that matter are the Census numbers. This could mean that East Texas could lose representation in the Texas Legislature, and possibly even at the federal level.
In other business, the board:
• discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce of East Texas;
• approved paying $341,000 for aerial photography to assist appraisal districts and 911 mapping efforts, and $76,499 for Microsoft software licensing; and
• discussed an allocation of $161,542,000 for Hurricane Harvey CDBG-Mitigation, which will become available for counties affected by the Hurricane, which includes Jasper, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto and Tyler counties.