Orange County to seek $8 million loan

Published 10:55 am Thursday, October 25, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Orange County Commissioners Court took the first step in seeking an $8 million loan on Tuesday.

The loan was referred to as Orange County Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes Series 2018 on the agenda.

“The loan, and I use that term loosely, was turned in by Wells Fargo to give us a couple of options,” Orange County Judge Dean Crooks said. “Part of the reason is we are in the final calendar of this quarter. The entire amount is not needed and we may use less.”

According to Texas Government Code Chapter 1431.004 (2) the county is permitted to use the proceeds of an anticipation note to pay (2) operating or current expense.

Orange County Treasurer Christy Khoury said the Attorney General still had to approve it as well as paperwork completed by the Bond Council.

“There is no penalty to pay it off early,” Khoury said.

Crooks asked how long would it take if the court approved the item on Tuesday.

“About four weeks,” Khoury said. “If no other revenue comes in, we will need it Nov. 20.”

The county pays approximately $350,000 a week for bills and payroll.

This week, the court approved $416,697.60 in bills.

“Some of the larger items were previously approved items including the payment to the Garth House and Spindletop were paid,” County Auditor Pennee Schmitt said.

Steve Bird of the Linebarger Law Firm also updated the court on delinquent tax collection activities.

While Sepetmber and October collections were not good last year that was a result of the impact of Harvey.

Nov. through Jan. showed an incline for tax collections, according to Bird.

“You still managed to increase revenue,” Judge Dean Crooks said.

County Tax Assessor-Collector Karen Fisher was asked how many properties were in trust at this time.

“There are 10 properties in trust,” Fisher said. “I am bringing one before you next week.”

“That is an improvement,” Crooks pointed out. “We had the numbers in the 40s at one time.”

Commissioner Johnny Trahan asked about the approximately 1,500 manufactured homes and if there was a way to know if they were inhabited or not.

“I think they would be a write off as we will never see money from them,” Trahan said. “A lot have been abandoned after the hurricane.”

Crooks added, “Being able to get an easement while we own it [property] for drainage would help.”

The court also adopted a resolution to provide online auctions for tax foreclosure sales and resales in a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Jody Crump voted against it.

“I am not against the idea,” Crump said. “I have a lot of questions such as why not use the current online auction site? Who owns this one? It states officers may remove properties for sale, not shall. We need to clarify.”

Fisher said the online auction would help broaden the counties customer base.

“It may bring the possibility of one moving to Orange,” Fisher said.

Real Auction, the site for the tax foreclosure sales and resales, has a flat fee of $300 on top of the bid while Reneebates Auction has a 5% fee, which would be taken out after the final bid.

“I am not comfortable with it,” Crump said. “The devil is in the details and I would have to do more research.”