County holds first of two public hearings on proposed tax rate

Published 8:01 am Wednesday, September 13, 2017

By Larry Holt

The Orange Leader

On Tuesday afternoon, September 12, 2017 the Orange County Commissioners Court held the first of two public hearings on a proposal to increase by 10.33 percent the total tax revenues from properties on the tax roll in the preceding tax year as calculated under Chapter 26 of the Tax Code. Individual taxes may increase at a greater or lesser rate, or even decrease, depending on the change in the taxable value of each individual property in relation to the change in taxable value of all other property and the tax rate that is adopted.

Although the meeting was sparsely attended, citizen Woody Dugas addressed member of the Court and requested they voluntarily rescind the Commissioner pay increase in light of the fact, “The job is a part time job, not a full time job” and the current crisis many citizens in Orange County are and will be dealing with for months and years to come because of Hurricane Harvey. Judge Stephen Brint Carlton, supported by Commissioner John Gothia remarked the previously adopted pay increase was a well thought out process and was long overdue.

Dugas replied, “There are a lot of people suffering and will suffer for a long time to come. It doesn’t seem right for you to vote yourselves a raise right now. Keep the employee raise in place, but rescind yours or I may be forced to seek a petition.”

There being no further comments from the public, Carlton said specific to the proposed tax rate increase, “It is unknown what the Orange County Appraisal District might do regarding taxable values on property during the period people are displaced from their homes.”

Carlton said a ten percent decrease in tax collection due to the storm’s aftermath would wipe out money previously set aside in reserve.

Commissioner Johnny Trahan said, “It is hard to say what the real impact is going to be.”

Commissioner Gothia asked Orange County Tax Assessor-Collector, Karen Fisher to provide historical data of what Hurricane Ike had on tax collection in order to inform the commissioners of what possible negative impact on tax collections there might be for the coming year in relation to the proposed tax rate increase.

The second and final public hearing on the proposed tax rate increase is scheduled for Friday, September 15, 2017 at 6 p.m. at the Administration Building in Commissioners’ Courtroom, located at 123 South 6th Street in Orange.

After the hearing was concluded Dugas commented he felt strongly that all citizens should be more involved in local government, “Show up and tell them what you think. It’s our right.”