County tax hearing draws no comments

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LIVINGSTON -- Although the public will get one more chance to formally comment, no one came forward during Tuesday’s hearing on Polk County’s proposed 2017 tax rate.

Held just prior to the Polk County Commissioners Court meeting, the public hearing opened with County Judge Sydney Murphy outlining the procedure and explaining the commissioners were proposing a rate of 64.61 cents per $100 of assessed value to fund the county’s proposed $30.1 million budget.

The proposed rate is unchanged from last year but constitutes a tax increase under state law because it will generate more income. The increase in income will be due to an overall increase in property values that have occurred in the past year.

Under the law, when governmental entities such as counties, cities and schools calculate the tax rate for the coming year, they start with an “effective tax rate,” which is the rate that would be needed to generate about the same income as the year before. Any rate set above the effective rate is classified as a tax increase.

Murphy noted this year’s effective rate for the county is 62.6602 cents per $100 of assessed value.

A third number generated under state law is the “rollback tax rate.” This is the maximum rate a governmental entity may assess without facing the possibility of a taxpayer petition to call an election to roll back the rate.

Polk County’s rollback rate this year is 68.9233 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Under the schedule announced by Murphy, a second public hearing on the tax rate will be held at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5, in the Commissioners Courtroom on the third floor of the Polk County Courthouse in Livingston.

A public hearing on the proposed 2018 budget -- which is scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 1 -- will be held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, also in the Commissioners Courtroom.

Immediately after that hearing, commissioners will convene a regular meeting during which they are scheduled to adopt both the tax rate and the budget.

A copy of the proposed budget can be found on the county’s website at .
Regular meeting

Following the public hearing, commissioners held a regular but brief meeting that lasted only about 15 minutes.

During that session, they:
Accepted Beacon Lane in the Weavers Cove Subdivision as a county road. Pct. 1 Commissioner Bob Willis said it had been inadvertently left of the county road list earlier and met the county’s road specifications.

Learned that new pistols and holsters purchased by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office had arrived but that the pistols had to be returned to Sig Saur due to defects. Sheriff Kenneth Hammack said that both the Houston and Dallas police departments had obtained the same model and in testing them discovered that some would fire if dropped. He told the commissioners the company would correct the problem and the pistols would be returned in 60 to 90 days.

Approved the county investment policy for the coming year. County Treasurer Terri Williams said that other than changing some names, the policy was unchanged from last year.

Approved the purchase of additional computer equipment that got left off the capital improvement list adopted as part of the 2018 budget discussion. Commissioners agreed to use money that was to be allocated to the Waste Management Fund and to the Commissioners Court Contingency Fund to pay for the extra equipment.