County Commissioners schedule new public hearing on budget
Stephens County Commissioners have schedule a second public hearing on the proposed 2017 budget and must readopt the budget and county tax rate after they failed to publish the public notices required by the Local Government Code before the original meetings last month.
The public hearing on the budget will held at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25, and will be immediately followed by a the special-called meeting to adopt the budget and tax rate.
Both meetings will be held at the Stephens County Commissioners Court in room 115 of the Stephens County Courthouse.
Commissioners originally adopted the budget during a meeting on Monday, Sept. 26, following a turbulent public hearing a week earlier.
Before adopting the budget at the earlier meeting, the County Commissioners and County Judge Gary Fuller cut their travel pay by 25 percent. Additionally, the commissioners cut their education budget by about half.
The cuts took the commissioners’ and county judge’s annual travel pay from $14,400 to $10,800.
According the Stephens County Treasurer Sharon Trigg, the total amount of the budget, $5,384,721, remained the same, but commissioners reallocated 25 percent their travel pay and educational budget to purchase tires for county vehicles. The 25 percent travel pay cut from the county judge was reallocated to juvenile probation department’s placements.
Also, since the commissioners and county judge’s travel allowance is paid like salary, the county is required to pay FICA, Medicare and retirement funds toward the pay. The money that was budgeted for those payments on the cut funds was also reallocated.
Trigg said the county judge didn’t cut his education budget because he is required to attend more training than the commissioners.
“Any cuts that were made to travel or the educational budgets went to tires,” she said. “The kind of tires they buy, like the big ones for the maintainers, they’re expensive.”
In the upcoming meeting, Commissioners Court is again proposing a tax rate of $ 0.8000 per $100 valuation for property taxes, which is unchanged from last year. The proposed effective tax rate is $0.9383 per $100 valuation. The effective tax rate is the total tax rate needed to raise the same amount of property tax revenue for Stephens County from the same properties in both the 2015 tax year and the 2016 tax year.