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Wood County Commissioners Court

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Appraisal District Budget
Gets "Disapproval" of Court

Citing an "across-the-board salary increase of five percent" in a proposed Wood County Appraisal District budget as well as an increase in the overall budget as excessive, the Wood County Commissioners Court Friday adopted a "Resolution of Disapproval" of the district's proposed 2008-2009 budget.

Commissioner Roy Don Shipp, Precinct-1, described the salary and wage increases in the Appraisal District's proposed budget as "generous." Commissioners Jerry Galloway, Precinct-4, and Jerry Gaskill, Precinct-2 said a five percent increase as proposed by the district puts pressure on the county to match such an increase for county employees-something they weren't prepared to do.

The appraisal district is the body which establishes property values on every single piece of property in Wood County. It is this appraised value upon which property tax levies are set by the other governmental entities. For 2008-2009 the Wood County Appraisal District is proposing a budget of $1,039,000 compared with a budget of $992,146 for 2007-2008.

The Appraisal District is required by state law to submit its proposed budget to each of the taxing entities it serves in the county for prior review and approval. Therefore, all of the school districts, all of the municipalities and several special districts are given the opportunity to vote on the budget.

The county court's vote of 5-0 to "disapprove" of the appraisal district's budget represents 26.92 percent of the votes from all the taxing entities. There are six city governments with a total of 6.34 percent of the votes. Eleven school districts comprise 63.39 percent of the votes, while the Central Hospital District, the Upper Sabine Valley Solid Waste District and the Wood County Emergency District #1 (Holly Lake VFD) have a total of l.5 percent of the vote.

Hawkins Independent School District is the second largest taxing entity and has 16.98 percent of the vote on the appraisal district budget. Harmony ISD has 5.25 percent. The City of Hawkins has 1.04 percent and the Emergency District #1 has .15 percent of the votes.

It is not known what actions any of the other taxing entities have taken, or plan to take on the vote.

The court also received the annual report of the Wood County Industrial Commission. Highlights of the report include: a city-by-city review of economic and community development activities. For Hawkins the report said, "With the successful completion of the new Hawkins City Park, community leaders have turned their energies toward revitalization of their athletic fields and initiated a fund for real estate purchase to eventually acquire land for an industrial park. The pro-active investment by the community in creating "quality of place" is yielding positive results for future attraction of business and residents to the City of Hawkins. City leaders have prioritized the importance of youth and family initiatives for the focus of their work and it appears to be paying off for the City of Hawkins and the area."

As for the important economic impact of tourism, the report said, "The economic impact of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic (TTBC) held in April 2007 had very positive results beyond the direct and indirect economic effect of the event itself. Occupancy rates for 2007 returned to the levels last observed in 1998 which is attributable to the extraordinary visibility from national broadcast of the TTBC." The TTBC was repeated in 2008 with an expansion of country music talent offerings that drew 31,500 to the three day event. In addition "the WCIC has continued to aggressively market Wood County as a preferred destination." Citing the continuing advertising program funded by WCIC and directed at establishing Lake Fork as the premier bass fishing lake in the country, the WCIC annual report says this program is expected to continue to yield positive results for the future.

After a brief recess to allow a county attorney to review a proposed contract between Wood County and Russell Acker, the court approved the one-year contract establishing Acker as the On-site Septic Facility Representative (OSSF) beginning July 1, 2008. Acker said the residential permit fee will be increased $15 to $265 (total fee $300) effective July 1, while all re-inspection fees are being raised from $100 to $150.

In another matter relating to the OSSF, the court approved a change in the regulation of properties on Lake Bob Sandlin that are in Wood County. Since 1975 Titus County had regulated these properties. Effective with the adoption of the new resolution, Wood County's OSSF operation will be responsible for the regulation of any property adjacent to the lake lying in Wood County.

The court also authorized Judge Bryan Jeanes to request a portion of unclaimed capital credits received from electric cooperatives (Wood County Electric and Upshur Electric Co-Operative both serve portions of Wood County.

In other action the court approved:
- payroll of $264,469.87.
- employee/dependent health claims of $206,484.29 (with payment of 167,000 withheld pending review with health risk management firm and providers).
- claims of $270,049.98.
- renewal of five Xerox copier contracts (offices of treasurer, extension agency, juvenile probation, sheriff and county judge). All five were State of Texas contracts. New equipment will replace the previous equipment at a monthly savings of $7.38 and $23.02 while one will cost $1.14 more. The five contracts are each for 60-months.
- tabling of an agenda item concerning placement of vending machine in courthouse lobby area.
Personnel actions taken at the meeting included:
- Reginald C. Frost, resignation, CID Sergeant, WCSO, $16.56/hour.
- Curtis W. Robertson, resignation, dispatcher, WCSO, $12.82/hour.
- Jason Cody Jones, new hire, seasonal temporary employee, Pct.-2 R&B, $9.00/hour.

The next regular meeting of the Wood County Commissioners Court will be Friday, July 11 at 10 a.m. A special meeting of the court can be called with 72-hours public notice.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 April 2009 15:49  

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