Judge Dean Fowler said that the county has been using a loan fund part of the M&O budget.
This year, that portion of the budget is still $500,000 short, Fowler said.
He said that $1.6 million had been cut from the county’s budget over the past two years.
“The options now are to find another $500,000 in cuts, or to raise taxes,” Fowler told The Mirror.
He said the tax increase would only be for one year, because a loan for the Interest and Sinking Fund (I&O) part of the budget will be paid off, and that payment currently amounts to $.0335 of the tax rate.
Once that is paid off next year, he said, they can return to the tax rate that’s been in place for the past 10 years.
He said a quarter-page ad in Wednesday’s Mirror will give details on how much the increase will cost on certain typical properties.
He said that Hefner voted against the proposal, because Hefner wants to keep taxes lower through more budget cuts.
Fowler’s proposed budget includes cuts in commissioners’ salaries, which drew criticism from Pct. 1 Comm. James Crittenden and Pct. 3 Comm. Lloyd Crabtree.
Both said that the judge’s salary should be lowered, too, if the commissioners’ salaries are.
However, Fowle pointed out, the judge position has never been directly responsible for supervising work on county roads.
Commissioners used to have that job, but when the county went to the Unit Road System a few years ago, road work came under supervision of a road engineer, eliminating much of the time-consuming work commissioners had done in the past.
Before a tax rate can be adopted, the court will hold public hearings at 10 a.m. Sept. 4 and 9 a.m. Sept. 14.
Vote to set a tax rate and adopt the budget is expected to take place at the regular Sept. 28 meeting of the commissioners’ court.
In other business Friday, the court voted to pay a technology service provider $1,700 to assess the county’s hardware and software needs, and to propose additional services it might be able to provide for the county.
Fowler said it is the same company that provides technology services for the East Texas Council of Governments in Kilgore.