By JESSIE HORTON
ERATH COUNTY (August 24, 2015) — Commissioners held a busy court meeting Monday morning as a representative from Rough Creek Lodge was present to address misrepresentation in the local newspaper, citing repeated false statements made by an “unnamed source.”
Representatives from RCL included July Danley and others who provided what they say are correct numbers and information. RCL officials disputed what they believed was an overcharge in taxes. The independent appraisal, along with several meetings with Erath County Appraisal District representatives, resulted in a reduction of taxes and some that had to be paid back to RCL.
In other business, the Erath County Commissioners’ Court approved the proposed effective tax rate of $0.47 per $100 appraised value of property. This is the exact same rate as last year, however a number of local properties have dramatically increased in appraised value, it was reported. Without raising taxes, the county will be able to meet its budget with the increase they will see in collections.
The commissioners also approved the dates for the public hearings on the proposed effective tax rate, which will allow residents to come and discuss the rate with county officials.
Commissioners also approved several salaries for the 2016 fiscal year. They include salaries for all elected officials and the addition of new positions, including the change in job description for the county EMS director and the addition of an Emergency Management Fire Marshal. According to county officials, the emergency management department has grown and the requirements of the department have changed so that the addition is a necessity. Commissioners approved the position, EMS director changes and placing the new EM Marshal in pay grade 9.
The county commissioners also approved the exemption to the purchase rules for the county to allow the Erath County Sheriff’s Department to purchase body cameras for deputies to wear while on duty. Chief Deputy Jason Upshaw, county treasurer Donna Kelly and county auditor Janet Martin presented information to the court suggesting the best deal for the county would be to purchase from a company with better equipment that cost less than the state-approved company. The exemption to the purchase policy will allow ECSO to purchase the needed equipment and receive four free cameras, as well.
Before adjourning, the commissioners met with FEMA officials who are on site in Erath County helping residents recover from the storms that moved through the area in April and May. County Judge Tab Thompson said the FEMA officials would be out in the field with county officials in the coming weeks to assess what Erath County qualifies for from FEMA on the public level.