“Ya’ll know how busy the elections are nowadays,” said Mirella Escamilla Davis, county and elections clerk.
She reminded commissioners Monday during their first of two budget and tax rate hearings that next year will have a presidential race, which includes a Texan on the ballot, along with the regular county races.
Commissioners, she said, cut her part-time elections clerk budget to the point that she won’t have the necessary additional staff to man the early voting stations which will leave the county clerk’s office empty except for one employee.
“Therefore, we may be forced to close down the county clerk’s office for 10 days,” she said. “That means no recordings from the title companies.
“No birth or death records which affect the funeral homes...
“No copies for the landmen.
“If we have 20 working days in the month, the county clerk’s office will be closed for 10 days and that will mean we will see a drop in revenue because of that.
“I am going to throw the ball back at you all.”
A second hearing on the tax rate and budget is scheduled from 6 p.m. Monday in the commissioners courtroom of the courthouse.
Commissioners have approved a proposed tax rate of $0.54839 per $100 property value during a recent court meeting. Last year’s tax rate was $0.50065.
The effective tax rate, the amount the county would have to tax to receive the same amount of total revenue as last year, was $0.52513.
This means that a home valued at $100,000 would have $548.39 in taxes — about $47.74 more than last year. This is still a proposed rate and has not been accepted.
This amount will balance their budget which includes numerous cuts throughout the county.
Cuts have eliminated the code enforcement officer of Bee County’s Community Affairs Department along with leaving three positions vacant at the Bee County Jail and another position with the Road and Bridge Department.
While only a handful of people spoke, one resident questioned why taxes were increasing.
Jesse Gonzales was concerned that the increase in taxes would place a financial hardship on county residents.
“I work 14 hours a day trying to keep up with what I want to have. Every year y’all keep raising the taxes,” he told commissioners.
Judge David Silva reminded that some of the increases he was referring to were coming from the other taxing entities and increases in appraisal values.
“What the appraisal district does is separate from what the county commissioners court does and what the school district does,” Silva said. “This entity is raising taxes and that is why we are having these hearings.”
Silva also reminded that the tax increase came only out of necessity.
“If you have been keeping up with it in the paper, we have eliminated positions,” Silva said. “We are not giving raises to anybody and on and on it goes. Just to make the needs meet, we have to increase taxes.”
Gonzales said, “What are we as citizens supposed to do as far as making our ends meet if we keep getting taxed like this.
“We have to meet our budgets too. We have to make our ends meet too.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.