Burn Ban Continued
By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Commissioners Court approved the county’s financial blueprint and the means to finance it during a meeting held on Tuesday, Sept. 11.
After working through the majority of the court’s agenda, Houston County Judge Jim Lovell opened a public hearing on the proposed Houston County Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget. After a few minutes with no discussion or input from those in attendance, the hearing was closed. A motion was then made, seconded and unanimously approved to adopt the FY 2020 budget.
Once the budget had been adopted, the next item on the agenda concerned the adoption of Houston County’s FY 2020 tax rate. Once again, there was very little discussion and the court adopted the FY 2020 tax rate of $0.54 per $100 of property valuation.
The $0.54 tax rate is the same as in FY 2019 and is comprised of $0.4601 in the Maintenance and Operations rate and $0.0799 in the Interest and Sinking rate.
The next item concerned the discussion and ratification of the increase in property tax revenue by 10.9734% in FY 2020 which was approved by a unanimous vote of the commissioners.
Prior to the budget and tax rate adoption, the court filled the position of the Houston County Veterans Service Officer (VSO). Following the retirement of longtime VSO Fred Newtz, the judge said the county had received several applicants for the part-time position.
After careful consideration of all the applications, Lovell recommended hiring John McMillen to fill the vacant position. The appointment of McMillen was unanimously approved by the court.
The next agenda item pertained to the burn ban currently in effect for Houston County. County Fire Marshal Roger Dickey was in attendance at the meeting and commented the Keech-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) continued to climb. As of Friday, Sept. 13, the KDBI sat at 643.48 out of a maximum 800.
“I’m hoping for good things. The other day (Aug. 30) when you approved the burn ban, we got a nice rain the next day. If y’all will go ahead and approve this, we have a pretty good chance in the forecast tomorrow,” Dickey said.
The court approved continuing the burn ban at least until the court reconvenes on Sept. 24.
In other matters brought before the court:
- The commissioners approved the minutes from previous meetings.
- The payment of bills and expenses incurred by the county was approved.
- The Houston County Environmental and Community Service reports were received as information by the court.
- The court approved salaries for new and transfer employees.
- New pay rates for election workers during elections and training were approved by the court. The new rates reflect: election judges will earn $14 per hour; alternate judges will earn $13 p/h; and clerks will earn $12 p/h. During training, election workers will earn $8 p/h.
- Hotel Occupancy Tax funding was allocated to help support the Urban Cowboy Reunion Tour in September and the Crockett Lions Golf Tournament in October.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.