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Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - May 2009
Copyright 2009 - Polk County Publishing Company

Houston County Seeks Changes in Oil and Gas Appraisal Process
Houston County Courier -  May 2009

The Houston County Commissioners Court has gone on record against a change in the way oil and gas properties are appraised in Texas. 
During its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 12 commissioners adopted a resolution urging the Texas Legislature to either change or repeal the law that resulted in the change.
The resolution, which was adopted on a unanimous vote, opposes the way the state comptroller is applying a “market condition factor” which was approved by the Legislature in 2007. 
The resolution states that the comptroller’s interpretation of the Texas Tax Code “favors oil and gas owners to the detriment of all other taxpayers.”
Houston County Judge Lonnie Hunt said, “The State of Texas pressures our county appraisal district to make sure that everyone’s property is appraised at market value.  But in this case, they have singled out oil and gas properties and are applying a different standard to them, which will result in them being appraised at below market value.”
Judge Hunt said he had discussed this matter with Comptroller Susan Combs.  “She feels that her hands are tied, and that she is simply following the law,” he said, “so we are asking the Legislature to fix the problem.”
 “No one likes to pay taxes, but above all, the tax system needs to be fair,” he added.  “The oil and gas owners need to pay their fair share just like everyone else.  If this isn’t changed, it is going to result in a greater shift of the tax burden to homeowners, farmers and ranchers, and small business owners, and that’s just not fair.”
Special guests at Tuesday’s meeting were Gayle Green and J. D. Hale, representing U. S. Senator John Cornyn. 
Mrs. Green is Senator Cornyn’s district director for East Texas, and Hale has recently transferred from the senator’s Washington office to become the Deputy District Director for East Texas.
In other business Tuesday, commissioners heard an update on construction of the new Houston County Justice Center and approved the first payment to J. E. Kingham Construction Company in the amount of $191,649.95.  The county will pay Kingham monthly based on the amount of work completed on the project.
Commissioners accepted an independent audit report from Jesse Stephens CPA on Juvenile Probation grant funds received during fiscal year 2008.  The audit report showed no deficiencies and make no recommendations for changes.
The county approved a mutual aid agreement for law enforcement backup between Houston County and the City of Nacogdoches and approved a request from Precinct 1 Commissioner Roger Dickey to declare a 1994 Chevrolet half-ton pickup and a 1997 Dodge half-ton pickup as surplus property and advertise them for sale through the Auctioneer Express online auction service.



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