Commissioners oppose Patrick priority
Rollback tax election bills could hamper their ability to fund services, they say.
Williamson County commissioners are formally opposing legislation that would change the threshold for a rollback election for counties, municipalities and school districts.
The commissioners on Tuesday voted 3-0 on a resolution opposing Senate Bill 2 and its companion House Bill 15, which if passed would force automatic rollback elections any time a city or county adopts a budget that increases its effective tax rate by more than 4 percent. Currently, the rollback election threshold is 8 percent and a petition process is required.
An effective tax rate is the rate that would raise the same amount of government revenue in the new year as was raised the previous year, taking updated property values into account.
Commissioners say the proposed legislation — a noted priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick this session — would hamper the county’s ability to provide services. The bills are receiving opposition from cities, counties and school districts across the state and from Mayor Pro Tem Craig Morgan, who is also a mayoral candidate.
Specifically, commissioners say that the state Legislature requires counties to perform certain functions such as providing indigent health care and indigent criminal defense, but gives no funding for those mandates. Now commissioners say the Legislature could further complicate the ability of counties and cities to pay for services on their own.
“We need you, the public, to really go after your representatives on this and say ‘stop,’” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Terry Cook, the lone Democrat on the five-member court.
Gattis made the motion to oppose the two bills and Cook seconded them.
“We’ve got a Republican and a Democrat moving to do that,” Gattis said. “Maybe they’ll listen to us.”
Commissioners Valerie Covey and Cynthia Long did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, leading to the 3-0 vote. Later, Gattis said the commissioners were visiting Washington, D.C., working on environmental issues affecting the county.
Crime Victims’ Rights Week
Victims of crime and those who serve them will be honored April 5 when the county hosts its annual Crime Victims’ Rights Week ceremony.
The program is set for 10 a.m. in the old 26th District courtroom, on the second floor of the Williamson County Courthouse at 701 S. Main St. in Georgetown.
County commissioners on Tuesday voted 3-0 in declaring April 2-8 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. County Attorney Dee Hobbs said 11 victim advocates will be honored this year. Their names will be released at the April 5 ceremony.
“We will take the opportunity to recognize some of the individuals in our county who go above and beyond to advocate for the victims in our county,” said David Brown, who serves as the family justice division chief under Hobbs. He also supervises the victim advocates in the county attorney’s office.
“I want to commend all our departments — the (district attorney), the county attorney, the sheriff ’s department — I think we do a good job with that,” Gattis said. “It’s important that those victims out there get some care. Otherwise, they can get lost in the system. It’s a complicated system.”