REFUGIO – The Refugio County Commissioners Court approved a tax rate of 74.68 cents per $100 property valuation for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2021.

Before the tax rate was unanimously approved, a public hearing was held in order to receive comments from area residents regarding the proposal. No citizens spoke either for or against the proposed tax rate. The approved rate represents a 10 percent increase in the tax rate from the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The Commissioners Court also voted unanimously not to participate in an optional federal program that would allow the deferral of the 6.25 percent Social Security tax for employees through Dec. 31. These taxes would have to be paid back by the employees — or the county — by April 30.

If an employee did not pay back the taxes that were deferred, the county would be liable for paying that money.

County Judge Bobby Blaschke said members of the county’s policy review committee — which includes him, County Commissioner Stanley Tuttle, the county treasurer and county auditor and the sheriff — “reached a consensus that we ought to waive participation” in the deferral.

“It would be a hardship for employees to pay it back and is not a win-win situation,” Blaschke said. “It does not benefit the employee or the county.”

In other action, the county:

• Recognized Sylvia Lopez for 35 years service with the county, all in the district clerk’s office.

• Issued a proclamation recognizing September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The average age of a child diagnosed with cancer is 6, while the average age for adult cancer diagnosis is 66. Two Refugio County residents who have endured childhood cancer were in attendance of the county commissioner meeting.

• Approved an interlocal agreement with the towns of Austwell, Bayside, Refugio and Woodsboro for rabies control. The county has advanced funds for those communities which will be paid back by Jan. 1. That includes $231 for Austwell, $4,692 for Bayside, $40,913 for Refugio and $21,301 for Woodsboro.

• Authorized participation in the Routine Airport Maintenance Program for Rooke Field. This is a 50-50 matching grant with the Texas Department of Transportation, which provides half of the $45,000 in funds with the county providing the other half.

• Approved grants through the Texas Attorney General’s Office which funds automated notification of victims when those charged with crimes against them have been released from jail.

• Acknowledged district judges orders which set the salaries for the Refugio County auditor and assistants working in that office. Those salaries are $58,974 for the auditor, $41,200 for the first assistant and $33,238 for the second assistant. There was no change in the salary rate from the previous fiscal year.

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