Letters to the Editor: Re: County Tax Increase
Are we paying attention Ellis County residents? I know we’re paying something and that happens to be more in property taxes but why? The fact is, Judge Carol Bush “exhaustively” researched the possibilities and came to the conclusion our property taxes needed to be increased in order to pay the obligations and debts that have been incurred in our name. We are here to tell you it was NOT necessary.
According to the county auditor, Mike Navarro, revenues are down in the amount of $1,184,513. There are additional expenses of $755,762, bringing us to an estimated need for $1,940,275 in tax revenues. Mr. Navarro also reports that due to the efficiency of the judges of Ellis County, there is an additional projected savings of $350,000. Therefore, we can subtract the $350K from the $1,940,275 which brings us to $1,590,275. Sounds good, right? WRONG!
There are many other ways to consolidate departments, i.e. placing Roads and Bridges under the authority of the County Engineer, which would save an approximate $389K. That may not sound like much in the overall scheme of things but that is a significant savings. County employees do not contribute to their personal healthcare benefits. (full disclosure-they do pay for their dependants)
If each employee would contribute $12.50 per paycheck it would save the tax payers an additional $150K per year. We concede the employees have not had an increase in pay in 4 years but, neither have most people in the private sector. Therefore, it may just be time for some help by those who work for US!
Another issue in the budget is listed as “Non-Departmental” expenditures. What exactly is that? The numbers for a non-departmental listing are staggering. There are multiple items listed under this category which include $595K for personnel expenses, insurance and legal fees $837K, tax appraisal fee $390K, general misc. $1,460,801. We have to ask, REALLY? What is all this and is it irrefutably necessary?
In order to go through each option to reduce county obligations and possible cuts this editorial would take up the entire page. Suffice it to say there were other options before increasing the budget and our taxes. In the interest of full disclosure, Holcim Texas, LLC, in Midlothian, is suing the Ellis County Appraisal District (which is a state agency contracted by the county). There are seven (7) total suits, one of which has been adjudicated and lost but is up for appeal. If the AD loses all 7 cases the liability to the county could reach $1M or more. The current budget does not take into account that possibility which will likely cause the County Judge and Commissioners to come back next year for more of your tax dollars!
The bottom line, if they were really serious about standing by their promises of being fiscally responsible to their employer, the Citizens of Ellis County, they would have looked harder to cut and consolidate in order to save money. They have chosen not to do so and the message from us is, WE WILL REMEMBER!
Ellis County Tea Party Leadership