County approves 2020-21 budget
By Wesley Gardner
Caldwell County Commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve county’s budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The approximate $25.4 million budget represents a roughly $3.3 million increase from last year’s budget.
County Judge Hoppy Haden praised the work of the county employees who worked on this year’s budget, which he said was an unusual process due to new rules implemented by the state.
“I would like to thank Ezzy [Chan] and Barbara [Gonzales] and everyone who worked on this budget,” said Haden. “It was an interesting process this year.
“I also want to thank the appraisal district for getting us our rates as quickly as they did this year … It went much more smoothly than I anticipated, and I just wanted to recognize everyone who worked on this budget.”
Two weeks ago, commissioners approved a proposed tax rate of $0.7054 per $100 valuation –a roughly four cent drop from last year’s rate and an approximate seven cent drop from two years ago.
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 relief that’s provided, but we’re doing our part to at least keep in 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.”
In other business, commissioners voted to remove the county wide burn ban after several days of rain last week and more rain forecasted in the weeks ahead.
“With the theory of the rainfall that’s presented this week, I would really like the lift the burn ban and give the citizens a chance to clean up their property and do what they need to do,” said Hank Alex, deputy chief of the Caldwell County Office of Emergency Management.
Despite the removal of the burn ban, protocol still remains in place to ensure safe burning, including alerting appropriate law enforcement agencies before conducting any controlled burns.
Burns can begin no earlier than one hour after sunrise and should end on the same day no later than one hour before sunset, officials said. Any waste burned at a particular property must have originated from that site, meaning the burning of trash brought in from outside the property is not allowed.
Additionally, burning will not be permitted when surface wind speed is predicted to be less than six miles per hour or greater than 23 miles per hour during the proposed burn period.