Public hearing held on tax increase

The Nolan County Commissioners met for their regular meeting on Monday morning, Aug. 22, 2011 at the Nolan County Courthouse.Two public hearings took place during the meeting — for bid considerations on the oil and gas lease and on the proposed property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year.No input was offered for the oil and gas lease bid considerations, which encompasses two separate properties equaling 9.35 acres. As a result, approval was given to seek bids regarding the lease to be advertised in the Sweetwater Reporter for the next three weeks on a weekly basis. In addition, the first public hearing on the proposed property tax rate for 2011-2012 was held, in which one citizen spoke on the matter about the new rate of .423032 cents per $100 valuation — which equals around an 8% increase, wondering why the increase was taking place.The main issue for the raise, according to the commissioners, was the depreciation values within the windmill market. The trend will continue throughout the future years, and when asked if future rate increases would coincide, the possibility was unknown and will not be determined until the next year. The county was initially unaware of the depreciation and its impact until talks of the budget were already in motion. However, it was noted that since 2004, the tax rates have gone down until the present time though overall, costs at all levels have risen since that time.Following the public hearing, the commissioners set the second date on a public hearing for the proposed tax rate for Monday, Sept. 12, 2011. The commissioners also scheduled the public hearing on the records management plan for the same day.Also, a date was set for the public hearing on the 2011-2012 proposed budget on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. During the current meeting, the proposed budget was filed with the County Clerk.Furthermore, approvals were given on a variety of matters, such as the proposal to join the Texas Association of Counties insurance pool for all of the county's insurance needs. The coverage matches what the county currently has, but the new deal offers more coverage. County buildings, vehicles, public officers and law enforcement are covered through this program which covers around 90% of all Texas counties.Out of the two bids offered, the one accepted by the commissioners — which is valued at $98,791 — covers 21 more vehicles, adds several more public officials and includes data processing and voting equipment as part of the package. The fee, however, is subject to change following an extensive appraisal process.Approval was also given to extend the lease with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the next 48 months (four years) from the end of this August through Aug. 31, 2015. An increase of $1,680 was noted for the new lease, due in part for the use of space on a radio tower.Another renewal was approved for the Vine Automated Victim Notification services for 2011-2012. The program has been in place for around five years, which allows families of victims to call in order to find out if an offender is still incarcerated.Yet another approval was given for support of a prescription plan for both Nolan County employees and residents. The program was presented at a previous Commissioners meeting, which offers reductions in costs for prescriptions and as a result of its use, the county would receive reimbursements.The bid for a water truck for Precinct 3 was awarded from the two bids previously received from East Texas Trucks Systems, in which the commissioners accepted the 2008 Sterling truck valued at $76,752. The commissioners also approved appointing election judges and alternate election judges for a two year term, in which a list of workers was presented to the group.However, no action was taken regarding the presentation of a proposal from Honeywell, Inc. on the maintenance of heating and air conditioning equipment. A representative from Honeywell made the presentation, reiterating much of what was said from a previous meeting in that the company has looked at the facilities.Honeywell also boasts a more comprehensive maintenance for heating and cooling systems than what the county previously is under and even offers computer generated reports for maintenance as well as assistance in finding grants for the county to use. Also discussed was possible payment plans and contracts should the county take later action on this matter.For the next two weeks, approval was given for the burn ban to remain in effect for Nolan County and the minutes from the Aug. 8, 2011 meeting were also approved. Additionally, reports were received from the Nolan County Auditor, Treasurer and Sheriff's Office along with the Welfare Office.