County sets public hearing for 2020-21 tax rate
By Wesley Gardner
Caldwell County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve a public hearing scheduled for Aug. 25 that will allow commissioners to vote to approve the proposed tax rate for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The proposed rate — $0.7054 per $100 valuation – would mark a roughly four cent drop from last year’s rate and an approximate seven cent drop from two years ago.
County Judge Hoppy Haden said that while he was pleased the county could lower the rate, rising property values in the county offset a lot of potential savings.
“Unfortunately, corresponding with [the lower tax rate], property values have skyrocketed, so I’m not sure how much relief will be provided, but we’re doing our part to at least keep it manageable,” said Haden. “When you look at seven pennies per $100 property valuation, then you look at the amount of property value that’s in Caldwell County – it’s in the billions – that equates to a lot of relief.
“Had it remained .7725 with today’s property values, that would have been an unbelievable burden on the taxpayers, so I’m very happy that we’re able to head in this direction.”
Haden also noted he decided to push back a previously approved raise for the county judge that would have bumped the position’s salary from $58,165 to $81,850.
“I’m just reluctant to do it this year, given that we are looking at a Caldwell County unemployment rate of 14 percent,” said Haden. “I’m hopeful that will get better next year.
“I do recognize that this needs to happen. I feel like the county judge certainly, if not me, then whoever takes my place will earn every penny of that money. I know there are those out there who disagree, but it really is a 24/7 job … I just think that this year, because of what people are going through with the coronavirus, I just don’t think it’s appropriate for me to take that this year.”
In other business, commissioners approved a resolution that will allow the county to begin the process of removing the Confederate monument on the courthouse lawn to the Caldwell County Jail Museum.
Before that process can begin, the county must first seek approval from the Texas Historical Commission. Haden noted that because the monument was paid for using private funding, the county would not spend any money to remove it from the courthouse.
Private efforts are already underway to raise funding, though the final amount required to remove the monument will remain unclear until a cost assessment is completed.