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Simply Speaking: Ongoing debate

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Okay, so it was “only” a 5.12 percent county property tax increase; what’s that, about a 20-something dollar increase per year on a $100.000 house? Of course, appraisals have pushed the $100,000 houses up near-double or more from a few years back and it was not so long ago that our current 40-something cents per hundred dollar valuation was in the teen-cents. That’s what you call a double-whammy, caught between the silent tax caused by appraisals and on-the-campaign-trail “conservatives” sneaking in rate increases when we mostly aren’t looking. 

And we’ve also noticed county taxes are not the only entities desiring more tax dollars as the years go by; virtually all of them “need” more and more with each passing year...and appraisals usually get them by until a rate increase must be sneaked in.

Of course, you have to look back to the 1980s to find properties in that hundred-thousand dollar range, for much of our county, so myriads of tax bills have doubled or more from those 30 year-ago averages. And, since the Texas Legislature turned the appraisal district revenue-process loose on us, beginning back in 1981, anytime real estate values were even minimally on the up side, valuations were sure to go up and up and up.

And, even though taxing entities and appraisal districts seem to fervently deny any connection to each other, upon scrutinization of our tax bill and subsequent protestations of appraised valuations, the fact remains, our tax-due calculation is based on multipliers between the tax rate and the appraised valuation. Incidentally, each appraisal district board member is appointed by taxing entities.

Other than these, there is absolutely no connection between these deniers…that we know of.

Anyway, neither real estate, nor anything else in the financial realm is on the up now, has not been in three or four years, and is not projected to be so in the foreseeable future. But county government set their budget sort of as-usual and, upon not meeting it revenue-wise, due to hard times, the recession, depression, or whatever, opted to simply raise taxes…in these hard times for all of us.

So now, we must scramble and cut our family and small business budgets, since county government refused to do so.

In view of this county government disregard for families and businesses, the Ellis County Republican Executive Committee, who also represents families and businesses in its Ellis County voting precincts, motioned in early October to censure the three commissioner court members who were in favor of raising county taxes.

A motion to delay the vote until the two mandated county hearings were held was passed and citizens did attend those hearings, appealing for budget cutting instead of tax-raising. This, as expected by many, fell on deaf ears and Judge Bush, Commissioner Dodson, and Commissioner Sims, composing a three out of five majority, voted for the tax increase.

An invitation was then extended to Judge Bush to attend the next executive committee meeting to defend the court’s action. She accepted and spoke before the committee and its visitors for 90 consecutive minutes at the November meeting. Therefore, it was decided more time for deliberation was needed and the vote was again delayed until yet another month had passed.

Consequently, the committee again took up the motion in December to censure. After due deliberation, the Ellis County Republican Executive Committee, on the evening of December 6, 2011, voted 14 to 7 for the censure of the three above-named court members. 

Though the censure may be viewed as simply a slap on the hand and, though Judge Bush and Commissioner Dodson have stated the censure is not representative of the majority of Republicans in Ellis County, that remains to be seen, conceivably in coming elections. 

Perhaps the censure might be viewed by some, as was the deportment grade on our school-days report cards, simply as harmless misbehavior but, however analyzed, it is now an additional known event in the political life of these elected officials who, desired or not, are there to hear and represent all its citizens and now must now go forward with this mark on their record.

We know Washington and Austin are somewhat remote to regular vigorous citizen participation in its governmental activities, but county government is not…and should be watched and participated in, making it, per Jefferson, the best of all government, due to its closeness to the people.

May Yahweh, Father God, bless through Yeshua, the Only Begotten Son and King of the Universe.

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