Commissioners court to establish homestead exemption
By Emily Banks Wooten
The Polk County Commissioners Court approved establishing a county homestead exemption to provide some relief to local taxpayers during its regular meeting Tuesday.
“The Polk Central Appraisal District indicated that our appraisal values this year are going to go up pretty extensively. Over the last four years we have seen the taxable value in Polk County increase by 0.2% in 2020, 8.9% in 2021, 13.45% in 2022 and a little over 16% in 2023. I think we all know that. We all know that we’re skyrocketing in values and in development. So to provide meaningful tax relief for our residents since we are capped at the 3.5%, then it behooves us and it comes at the recommendation of our Chief Appraiser Chad Hill to establish a county homestead exemption up to a 20% max,” County Judge Sydney Murphy said.
Following an executive session to deliberate employment and real property, the Court voted to accept a letter of resignation from Polk County Tax Assessor-Collector Leslie Jones-Burks, effective May 31 due to her retirement.
It was also indicated that the Court may want to purchase real property to extend the landfill. While the specifics were not discussed, the Court did approve authorizing Precinct 3 Commissioner Milt Purvis to negotiate on behalf of the county.
The Court approved a request from Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons for agreement and conditions of employment for new cadets of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office enrolled in a basic police academy, to be funded by the sheriff’s personnel budget.
“It is intended to attract cadets and applicants for the sheriff’s office. It would only be authorized for vacant officer positions. It has been reviewed by legal counsel. Basically in exchange for a commitment to work as a fulltime deputy for the sheriff’s office for a minimum of 24 months following their TCOLE certification, the county will pay them the fulltime wages for a corrections officer level and payment of their tuition which is $2,500,” Murphy said. “It takes five months for them to complete the academy and it would only be authorized for vacant officer positions.”
Several items regarding the Polk County Community Development Block Grant for the Dallardsville-Segno Water Improvement Project were approved, including a resolution adopting civil rights plans and policies, a resolution authorizing signatories and a presentation on Section 3, as required by the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Having received nuisance abatement hearing determinations for Cause Nos. A00540 and A00535, the Court approved moving forward to abate the nuisances.
An order authorizing the sale of fireworks during the San Jacinto Day period of April 16 through midnight April 21 was approved.
Fiscal year 2023 budget revisions and amendments, as presented by the county auditor’s office, were approved.
In personnel matters, the Court reviewed and approved personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and also approved an update to the personnel management system.
Items on the consent agenda included:
Approval of the minutes of the March 14 meeting;
Approval of the schedule of bills;
Receipt of the county auditor’s monthly report, pursuant to Local Government Code Sec. 114.025;
Approval of an advanced funding agreement with the State of Texas for bridge replacement or rehabilitation on Old Bering Road at Long King Creek in Precinct 3 at no cost to the county;
Approval of an advanced funding agreement with the State of Texas for bridge replacement or rehabilitation on Nine Bridge Road at Piney Creek Branch in Precinct 3 at no cost to the county;
Approval of an interlocal agreement with the City of Onalaska for the county’s provision of election equipment and services for the May 6 general election as recommended by the county clerk;
Approval of the work-based learning agreement renewal between Workforce Solutions and the Polk County Maintenance Department;
Approval of the work-based learning agreement renewal between Workforce Solutions and the Polk County Aging Department;
Approval of a contract extension between Deep East Texas Council of Governments and Polk County Aging Department for Contract Number 014-16-1000824-10 for Older American Act Program (congregate and home-delivered meals);
Approval of the Texas A&M Forest Service amendment to the interlocal cooperation contract for prescribed burn at the gazebo nature area, extended from March 31, 2023 to March 31, 2024;
Acceptance of the sheriff’s use of force policy update;
Approval of memorandums of understanding with Onalaska Water and Gas, Providence Water Supply Corporation and Tempe Water Supply Corporation for ARPA-funded projects;
Approval of memorandums of understanding for local disaster preparedness (sheltering);
Ratifying approval of an order accepting Quiet Oak Drive in Four Corners Section 5, Precinct 2, as a county road and its addition to the master street address guide; and
Receipt of the county treasurer’s monthly report for February 2023.
Sean Ferry of Pine Forest Baptist Church opened the meeting with prayer.
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