Com­mis­sion­ers op­pose Pa­trick pri­or­ity

Roll­back tax elec­tion bills could ham­per their abil­ity to fund ser­vices, they say.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Brad Stutz­man Round Rock Leader con­tribut­ing writer

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.”

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