County workers to get 3% raise
Houston County Courier
County employees will see a three percent salary increase when the 2012 budget takes effect, and no change in the tax rate is proposed. The Houston County Commissioners Court officially adopted the new county budget for fiscal year 2012 during its regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 23. Prior to adoption, a public hearing on the budget was adopted but no comments or questions were received from the public. County Judge Lonnie Hunt explained the general fund budget for the coming year will be a little less than $7.5 million. Taking into account all funds and accounting for transfers of money between the various funds, Hunt said the total effective budget is approximately $10.5 million. A breakdown of the county budget by category shows that almost $2.7 million, or 25.5 percent, goes for public safety, including the sheriff’s department, county jail, constables, community service restitution program and emergency management. The next largest expenditure is for the four road and bridge departments which account for $2.4 million, or about 23 percent of the budget. The county will spend $1.7 million, or 16.4 percent of the budget, to fund the court system. Facilities account for 15 percent. Other categories include general administration and finance at 6.8 percent and records management at 3.8 percent. Various other budget items make up about nine percent. The county’s largest source of revenue is property taxes, although the percent of total revenue from property taxes is dropping slightly. This year, property taxes account for 47 percent of the total budget. For fiscal year 2012, property taxes will account for only about 45 percent. The commissioners court proposes to keep the same tax rate in effect for next year. The first of two public hearings on the tax rate was held Tuesday, with no comments received from the public. Another public hearing will be held Aug. 30, and the official adoption of the tax rate is scheduled for Sept. 13. It was noted that Houston County continues to have the lowest property tax rate of all counties in the Deep East Texas region. The commissioners court also approved the preliminary plat of a new subdivision east of Grapeland. The subdivision, approximately 39 acres, has eight tracts and is located along County Road 1850 in Precinct 1. Precinct 1 Commissioner Roger Dickey said the preliminary plat had been reviewed by the county’s engineers, Klotz and Associates, and the developer had made two changes that were recommended by the engineers. In a move that will save the county more than $300 per month, the court approved the lease of four Sharp digital copiers from Texas Imaging Services of Lufkin. The machines will replace older copiers in various county offices. County Auditor Melissa Mosley said that by grouping the five copiers together and soliciting competitive quotes, the total monthly cost of the five copiers will be reduced from $1,170 per month to about $827 per month. In other business, the court accepted a check for $5,000 from Brooks Petroleum for damages caused to County Road 2260 in Precinct 2.