Commissioners discuss county's proposed tax rate

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Gregg County commissioners discussed a proposed tax rate Monday which will be voted on at an upcoming meeting.

“We’re asking to keep the tax rate at .2625. We’ve had it at that for a few years now and to set the hearings for August 13 at 10 a.m. and August 20 at 9 a.m,” said Gregg County Budget Director Linda Bailey.

District 2 Commissioner Darryl Primo questioned the need for the discussion.

“I don’t understand why this is on the agenda. You’ve already run the ad and already set those dates?” Primo asked.

Bailey explained the rate needed to be discussed in order to allow enough time for the public to be notified before the final vote.

“It’s a timing issue. We have to publish this seven days in advance. I did not want to create an issue if we did not have it exactly seven days in advance of the actual first hearing that we have. It’s a really tight thing. I could have published it tomorrow but you would have had to count that day and I wanted to make sure that we had it in,” Bailey said.

Primo asked if the discussion and the waiting period was in accordance with the law. Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt encourage Bailey to research and make certain the law was being followed regarding the discussion.

Primo objected to voting on a change to the tax rate after the rate had already been published in the newspaper. Stoudt explained the rate had to be published in the paper before the vote so the public could be notified of the vote. Bailey pointed out the court was not voting on a change to the tax rate, they were only supposed to consider the proposed tax rate and hold a discussion.

Bailey suggested putting the tax rate discussion on next week’s agenda, which might delay the court in adopting the 2019 fiscal year budget until September.

“I think there needs to be a discussion whether we adopt the effective tax rate or not and that’s my motion. We’re going to talk about tax rates today. I make a motion we adopt the effective tax rate for next year as set forth by our tax assessor collector Kirk Shields and published in the paper this morning,” Primo said.

Stoudt asked for a vote on the motion and three commissioners voted against the motion with two in favor.

The board also discussed the approval of funds for the purchase of a new copier machine. The purchase was planned for next year’s budget but the county had unused election funds remaining and used those to fund the purchase. The funds were set to expire before being slated for the copier purchase. The Secretary of State will reimburse the county for the purchase after proof of purchase has been submitted to the state. The board voted to approve the purchase.

Among other items on the agenda, the commissioners voted to approve the re-appointment of two Gregg County Co-Investment Officers and approved a plan to apply to for a solid waste grant from the East Texas Council of Governments to defray the cost of purchasing dumpsters.

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