County sets tax rates

Plat approved for flood-prone subdivision

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The Austin County Commissioners Court on Monday adopted tax rates that will generate $24.5 million for the county in the coming fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

The overall tax rate of $.56966 per $100 of property valuation is a slight increase over last year due to an increase in debt after the county issued voter-approved bonds for the construction of a justice center and an EMS station. The general fund (maintenance and operation) has a rate of $.36673 and should generate $18,243,881. The rate for the debt fund (interest and sinking) is $.06004, the road fund (FM and lateral) is $.07832, and the road and bridge fund is $.06455. The road and bridge fund should generate $3.3 million and the road fund $2.9 million.

The commissioners split the vote on the tax rates the same way they split on the budget. Commissioners Mark Lamp, Randy Reichardt, and Chip Reed vote in favor and Bobby Rinn voted against. Rinn said in earlier meetings that he is opposed to a tax increase and also 3% raises for elected officials.

Passing the tax rate was part of a lengthy agenda the commissioners took on at Monday’s meeting. Many of the items were related to reauthorizing interlocal agreements with various entities for fiscal year 2020-2021. Commissioners also accepted a grant for the elections department, approved up to $30,400 in purchases of computers and servers for the I.T. department, and approved a couple subdivision variances to divide smaller tracts from larger properties.

Sunrise Estates

In an unusual move, commissioners unanimously approved a final plat for Sunrise Estates despite serious reservations. Located in his precinct, Reichardt said he has no choice but to approve it and pitied anyone who would buy a home there.

“I would like to say than anybody’s that stupid enough to buy this property will get flooded out any time it rains more than half an inch, but we can’t stop this subdivision from going in,” he said. “If somebody’s stupid enough to buy a property that floods, I feel sorry for them. We can’t fix everything; we can’t fix stupid. It’s just strange that we have people that would try to sell property like that as homesites.”

He said the subdivision might work fine if sites are built up about three feet.

“That’s my motion to accept it even though I’d like to turn it down, but I don’t see how,” Reichardt said.

“They followed all the rules,” County Judge Tim Lapham noted.

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