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Tyler County News - Breakout

County approves several bids in special meeting

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CommCourtLogoBy Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – In a special-called meeting of the Tyler County Commissioners Court on Monday morning, the commissioners tackled a short agenda mostly consisting of opening and awarding bids for various services.

The commissioners voted to open all of the bids prior to considering which firms to award services to. The three agenda items for bids included bids for petroleum products for the county; road materials and hauling.

One bid was received for petroleum products, from Gardner Oil, and was approved. For road materials, the county approved all the bids received, because, as County Auditor Jackie Skinner explained, it was more cost effective for the county to use firms on the south end of the county for work in that region, and firms in the north end, likewise. For the bid for hauling materials, the commissioners voted the same way.

Another agenda item was to award a bid for the grant administration for a FEMA-funded drainage project for Colmesneil ISD.

Skinner said that only one bid was received, from Lankford Community Management Services, and said their proposal was “very reasonable.”

The commissioners approved Lankford as the administrator on the project, with their costs coming in at $125 per hour, and their services not to exceed 5% of the project’s cost. 

The commissioners also approved an item for amending artwork or wall decorations for the Tyler County Courthouse.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Stevan Sturrock spoke about the item and said there needed to be an amendment made to state the decorations need to include a note that they can include sitting elected officials. 

This item was approved to be in compliance with the Tyler County Historical Commission’s requirements for the restored courthouse’s appearance and décor.

There is another special-called meeting of the commissioners court scheduled for Friday, April 29, at 9 a.m. Among the three items for consideration is the Lakeland Ranch Section Two plat application.

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Updated property tax info available

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Property TaxWOODVILLE — New and updated property tax information has been compiled by the Tyler County Appraisal District and is available now to taxpayers. This property tax information is current and covers a wide range of topics, such as taxpayer remedies, exemptions and appraisals, and has information for select groups, such as disabled veterans and persons age 65 or older.

“Whether you are a homeowner, business owner, disabled veteran or taxpayer, it’s important you know your rights concerning the property tax laws.” said David Luther, Chief Appraiser of the Tyler County Appraisal District. “You can contact us about these and other property tax issues with full confidence that we will provide you the most complete, accurate and up-to-date information available.”

This includes information about the following programs.

•Property Tax Exemptions for Disabled Veterans - The law provides partial exemptions for any property owned by disabled veterans or surviving spouses and surviving children of deceased disabled veterans. Another partial exemption is for homesteads donated to disabled veterans by charitable organizations at no cost or not more than 50 percent of the good faith estimate of the homestead’s market value to disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. The exemption amount is determined according to percentage of service-connected disability. The law also provides a 100 percent homestead exemption for 100 percent disabled veterans and their surviving spouses and surviving spouses of U.S. armed service members killed or fatally injured in the line of duty. A homestead exemption is available only for property owned, used, and resided in by the taxpayer.

•Property Tax Exemptions – Non-profit organizations that meet statutory requirements may seek property tax exemptions and must apply to their local appraisal district by a specific date. Businesses that receive tax abatements granted by taxing units; ship inventory out of Texas that may be eligible for the freeport exemption; store certain goods in transit in warehouses that are moved within 175 days; construct, install or acquire pollution control property; own and operate energy storage systems; convert landfill-generated gas; or store offshore drilling equipment while not in use may also be eligible for statutory exemptions.

•Rendering Taxable Property - If a business owns tangible personal property that is used to produce income, the business must file a rendition with its local appraisal district by a specified date. Personal property includes inventory and equipment used by a business. Owners do not have to render exempt property such as church property or an agriculture producer’s equipment used for farming.

•Appraisal Notices – Normally, taxpayers receive a notice of appraised value from the appropriate local appraisal district. The city, county, school districts and other local taxing units use the appraisal district’s value to set property taxes for the coming year.

•Property Taxpayer Remedies – This Comptroller publication explains in detail how to protest a property appraisal, what issues the county appraisal review board (ARB) can consider and what to expect during a protest hearing. The publication also discusses the option to request limited binding arbitration to compel the ARB or chief appraiser to comply with a procedural requirement and the options of taking a taxpayer’s case to district court, the State Office of Administrative Hearings or binding arbitration if the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the outcome of the ARB hearing.

•Homestead Exemptions – A homestead is generally defined as the home and land used as the owner’s principal residence on Jan. 1 of the tax year. A homestead exemption reduces the appraised value of the home and, as a result, lowers property taxes. Applications are submitted to the appropriate local appraisal district. Structures not used as the owner’s residence, like an additional residential or business structure is ineligible for the exemption.

•Productivity Appraisal – Property owners who use land for timberland production, agricultural purposes or wildlife management can be granted property tax relief on their land. They may apply to their local appraisal district for an agricultural appraisal which may result in a lower appraisal of the land based on production, versus market value.

•Residence Homestead Tax Deferral - Texas homeowners may postpone paying the currently delinquent property taxes due on the appreciating value of their homes by filing a tax deferral affidavit at their local county appraisal district. This tax relief allows homeowners to pay the property taxes on 105 percent of the preceding year’s appraised value of their homestead, plus the taxes on any new improvements to the homestead. A deferral postpones the remaining taxes, with interest accruing at 8 percent per year but does not cancel them.

•Property Tax Deferral for Persons Age 65 or Older or Disabled or Disabled Veteran Homeowners – Texans who are age 65 or older or disabled, as defined by law, or who qualify for a disabled veteran exemption may postpone paying current and delinquent property taxes on their homes by signing a tax deferral affidavit. Once the affidavit is on file, taxes are deferred, but not cancelled, as long as the owner continues to own and live in the home. Interest continues to accrue at 5 percent per year on the unpaid taxes. You may obtain a deferral affidavit at the appraisal district.

•Notice of Availability of Electronic Communication – In appraisal districts located in counties with a population of more than 200,000 or that have authorized electronic communications, and that have implemented a system that allows such communications, chief appraisers and ARBs may communicate electronically through email or other media with property owners or their designated representatives. Written agreements are required for notices and other documents to be delivered electronically instead of mailing.

•Protesting Property Appraisal Values – Property owners who disagree with the appraisal district’s appraisal of their property for local taxes or for any other action that adversely affects them may protest their property value to the appraisal district’s ARB.

•Informal Meetings – Property can request an informal meeting with appraisal district staff to try and resolve their disputes prior to attending ARB hearings.

For more information about these programs, contact the Tyler County Appraisal District at (409) 283-3736, in the office located at 806 W Bluff St in Woodville, or at the District’s website at www.tylercad.net. Some information is also available on the Comptroller’s Property Tax Assistance Division’s website at www.comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/.          

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Chester ISD board receives reports

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Chester ISD logo template 300By Chuck Davidson

CHESTER – President Ray McKnight gaveled the regular monthly meeting of the Chester ISD board of trustees to order at 5:31 p.m., on Monday evening, a few minutes earlier than normal, due to the board having to do a two-hour training session after the meeting. 

Along with the six trustees, two Chester ISD staff members were present, along with one citizen. There was a public comment made prior to the regular agenda, asking the board to support the upcoming Chester Lions Club fish fry fundraiser on Saturday, May 7, which will take place at the Chester ISD Cafeteria.

Trustee Sam Handley gave the prayer and led the pledges then lawyer S. Killingsworth from the Linebarger firm was introduced to update the district on its property tax collections.  She reported that they sent out statements for the 2020-21 tax year to 205 property owners, and as of this month, nine of the top 10 accounts owing the district are in Polk County, which represents a small part of the district. 

The board then heard from business manager Austin Odom who reported that 92% of tax revenues are accounted for, that they have begun using a new sport officials payment program which expedites checks to them, that the district has supplied all staff with new radios (which work) and that two building water leaks had been repaired.

Consent agenda items were approved without comment and two motions were approved:  1) acceptance of $500 for math/science from Bill Dover/ExxonMobil, and 2) the 2022-23 Allotment & TEKS Certification form.  Superintendent Drake reported that enrollment is currently 219.  A quick executive session was held from 5:53 to 6:04 and then the meeting was adjourned.  Next meeting tentatively scheduled for the third Monday in May.

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Colmesneil council recognizes Child Abuse Prevention Month

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ChildAbusePreventionMonthBy Mollie LaSalle

COLMESNEIL – The Colmesneil City Council held a rather abbreviated meeting last Tuesday and breezed through all agenda items in 30 minutes.

The first item on the agenda was the signing of a proclamation declaring April “Child Abuse Prevention Month” in Colmesneil. Several members of the Child Welfare Board were on hand to speak about the programs they offer, and the welfare of the children in their custody. The proclamation was signed and delivered to the board.

Ordinance No. 25-P was also signed which officially recognized the raising of the water/sewer rates which council approved in February; the rates went into effect in March. Council also accepted the resignation of Ashley Morgan, the assistant city secretary. Council will start the process of finding a replacement for Morgan as soon as possible, with an announcement on the city’s Facebook page as well as placing an ad in the Booster.

The financial and investment report, office report, and water/sewer reports were all approved in short order, as well as the minutes form the previous month’s meeting.

With no further business to discuss, council adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

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CISD approves calendars

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Colmesneil ISDBy Mollie LaSalle
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COLMESNEIL – The Colmesneil ISD Board of Trustees had its regular monthly meeting on Monday, and before getting to the agenda, a couple of speakers used the public forum portion to speak.

Krista Connelly spoke about the progress of the Colmesneil ISD Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), of which she is president for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Connelly outlined all of the things the PTO has accomplished during the year and thanked the board for the opportunity to speak. She also said she looked forward to a long and mutually agreeable working relationship with the superintendent and the board in the years to come. 

David Gardner also spoke during the open forum, and specifically asked if a bond election were passed, if the superintendent get a one or two percent cut of the funds. 

CISD Superintendent Eldon Franco seemed rattled by the question, and board president Kris Lindsey informed Gardner that the board “could not comment on that”. Gardner then asked if he could file an open records request to view Franco’s contract. Franco responded that “my contract is online, all you have to do is go to Colmesneil ISD.net and look up the superintendent’s contract”.

A discussion of the approval of the 2022-2024 school calendars was next, and after a heated exchange, board member Bo Bendy wanted to table it until, the next meeting. Board president Kris Lindsey responded “we have a quorum, and there is no call to table this item”. Kenneth Adaway called for a vote, and the school calendars were approved. 

Another discussion ensued with the next agenda item, which was to discuss and consider changing at-large board member elections, to election by position. The two at large board members, Bo Bendy and Kenneth Graham are up for re-election in November. This agenda item was not passed, with four for it and two against it. 

Reports were given by CISD principals Walter McAlpin and Yvette Carlton, and athletic director Cody Day informing the board of the progress of students/activities on each campus, plus the athletics department.

McAlpin was pleased to report that, after a two-year absence, the high school is holding their end of year athletic banquet on May 2, and the FFA banquet is scheduled for May 17. He is also looking into the possibility of having the annual Lake Day at Lake Tejas once again and is looking at either May 12 or 19. 

Carlton was informed the board that so far, there have been four children sign up for the upcoming Pre-K program in the fall. 

The elementary is holding a Pre-K round-up, which is in progress now to this effort. The elementary is also slated to take a trip to the zoo in Lufkin on April 21. 

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