County approves annual budget, tax increase
By LPR Staff
After several weeks of planning and negotiating issues, the Caldwell County Commissioners approved a budget for the coming fiscal year on Monday morning.
The budget, which includes a cost-of-living pay increase for employees and added personnel for the Caldwell County Jail, will be supported by a total tax rate of $0.643
7 per $100 of valuation, an increase of $.014 over last year”s rate. Taxes are expected to account for around 60 percent of the County”s $12.8 million in expected revenues.
According to information presented by County Auditor Sonny Rougeou, the county”s expenses for the coming year are estimated at $12.9 million, which is a 3.5 percent increase over last year”s spending. Rougeou noted that the increase is due in large part to increased personnel costs, increases in insurance premiums and expanded jail operations.
“Personnel and related fringe benefits totals $6,343,050 and account for 49.1 percent of total expenditures,” he noted.
The planned expansion of the Caldwell County Jail increased the cost of operations more than 33 percent. Rougeou credits that increase as the driving force that pushed County operations costs upwards of $5.5 million.
“We feel this budget will sustain the County”s services at present levels with no allowance for new or enhanced services,” he said.
The Commissioners Court approved the budget and tax increase unanimously.
In other business, the Court held a public hearing to discuss the possibility of imposing speed limits on County Road 217 (Old Fentress Road) and County Road 218 (Boggy Creek Road).
According to Commissioner Tom Bonn, Precinct 1 Constable Victor “Smitty” Terrell asked the Court to consider imposing speed limits of 35 and 30 miles per hour respectively on the roads.
Bill Maul, a representative from Caldwell County Unit Road suggested that the speed limits should be lower.
“You can”t hardly drive 30 on 217, and no way can you drive 30 on 218,” Maul said. “The roads aren”t built for it. Even at 20 miles per hour, people slide off those roads.”
Bonn, however, suggested that because CR 217 is a “major thoroughfare,” the speed limit should not be lower than 35.
The resolution passed 3-1, with Commissioner Charles Bullock stating that he could not vote in favor of a speed limit of 35 miles per hour with such a strong suggestion against it from Unit Road.
In brief Court news:
The Commissioners presented a proclamation to several Caldwell County 4-H participants, declaring the week of Oct. 1 – 7 as 4-H week in Caldwell County.
They opted to put an outdoor burning ban back in place, after lifting the ban for one week. Fire Marshal Jeff Wright noted that several grass fires had broken out across the county after the ban was lifted.
The Court approved a petition requesting that an Emergency Fire District be created in a certain part of the county. The referendum will be presented to voters during next May”s uniform election season.
The panel granted a variance for a landowner to sell a six-acre tract out of a 26-acre property on Highway 86 north of McMahan.
The County paid bills in the amount of $87,617.84.
The Caldwell County Commissioners Court meets on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse.