By Tony Farkas
COLDSPRING — The San Jacinto County Commissioners Court is seeking a slight increase in the property tax rate to fund the county in the new fiscal year.
At the county’s Aug. 9 meeting, the court approved a proposed budget that is expected to raise $812,966 (or 5.5 percent), and of that amount $369,459 is tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year.
County Judge Fritz Faulkner said the current tax rate is .52957 for 2022-23, or $52.96 per $100,000 valuation, but it won’t be enough.
“We’re trying to raise more money in the new budget than we did this year, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that since there were tremendous crowds here urging us to do more for the sheriff’s office, and we responded by doing that; that proposed raise is in the budget,” he said.
Faulkner said the county can’t provide the necessary funding for the Sheriff’s office, as well as other services, unless it gets the money from somewhere.
The proposed rate is .53043, or $53.04 per $100,000, to “have enough money to allow the sheriff to do his job and fix more roads,” he said.
While raises for county employees are included last, Faulkner said, the Sheriff will get a $14,000 raise to help the county qualify for a $1.75 million state grant, since the requirements of that grant include a minimum salary level for officers.
Faulkner said the budget also includes raising income to pay for some unfunded state mandates.
The court set Aug. 28 for a public hearing on the proposed tax rate, and Aug. 31 will be a special meeting to approve the final budget.
In other business, the county:
•approved a contract amendment reducing compensation to GrantWorks;
•approved a variance for a family to allow road access from their property;
•approved a list of election judges and alternates and proposed voting locations;
•approved personnel for the counting station, early voting locations, statistical information and order of election for the November general election;
•approved seeking bids for materials and contracted services for the new fiscal year, which includes road repair materials, fuel and hauling;
•approved bond renewal for Kristin Reeves;
•approved the rehire of Jared Oliver as a deputy sheriff;
•approved the use of the Buy Board to purchase three vehicles for Sheriff’s Office;
•approved the lease-purchase of a gradall machine from Asco Equipment for $343,000; and
•approved an update to the grant revenue policy regarding the county’s buyout program.