The Gladewater council unanimously rejected the budget Thursday night, said Upshur County Pct. 3 Commissioner Frank Berka, who appeared before that group to request the veto.
Then, with Mayor Nancy Church casting the tiebreaking vote, the Big Sandy council voted 3-2 in a specially-called 8 a.m. meeting Friday to veto the proposal, said City Secretary Laura Moody.
Those cities joined the Upshur County Commissioners Court and Ore City School Board in vetoing the $790,755 budget, which contains a controversial 5 percent pay raise for Appraisal District employees.
Berka expressed confidence Thursday night that opponents can succeed in persuading enough other taxing entities to void the budget. He and Upshur County Republican Party Chairman Cynthia Ridgeway have separately appeared before several taxing entities to urge a veto.
The resolutions approved by the Commissioners Court and the Big Sandy council express concern that the pay raise could trigger a tax increase, and they say that Appraisal District employees have received raises for five of the past six years. The Appraisal District has contended that it needs the pay raises to compete with other appraisal districts for appraisers, and that its employees are not paid up to average.
Besides the four bodies which have vetoed the budget, some 13 other taxing entities which support the district financially also have a say in whether to approve it. Taking no action on it is tantamount to approving it, and entities have until July 10 to decide.
At the 13-minute Big Sandy meeting, where the district’s budget was the lone item on the agenda, Councilmen Lupe Gonzalez and John Worden supported the veto, while Wayne Weese and Monica DeCuir opposed it, Ms. Moody said.
Berka said he had asked the Big Sandy council for the veto the prior Monday night.
Ms. Moody said Gonzalez complained about the provision that no action by a taxing entity on the budget would equal approval, and that he thought the Appraisal District “needed to be more transparent.”
She said Weese argued the council should have confidence in the Appraisal District’s board of directors (which approved the budget by a 3-1 vote June 10), and that he said he did not think the pay raises the district has received in past years were “exorbitant.”
Berka said he told the Gladewater council Thursday night that he objected to the proposed pay raise “being so large.” He said he also pointed out that Gladewater city taxpayers would not only pay toward the city’s share of the district’s budget, but also pay county taxes toward the county’s $213,000 share of financing it.
Berka has also appeared before the Gladewater School Board to request its veto, while Mrs. Ridgeway has appeared before the Ore City School Board (which voted 3-0 with one abstention for the veto), the Big Sandy School Board, and, on Thursday night, the New Diana School Board.
The Ore City City Council is scheduled to consider the matter July 9, according to county Pct. 2 Comm. Cole Hefner.
Following the Big Sandy council’s split decision Friday, Upshur County Chief Appraiser Sarah Curtis told The Mirror, “I’m just going to wait till the 30 days (that entities have to act on the matter) is up, and see what happens. I’m not going to worry about it.”
A copy of Big Sandy’s veto resolution was delivered to the Appraisal District’s office in Gilmer Friday, Ms. Moody said.