CHEROKEE COUNTY – County leaders voted unanimously Tuesday morning to uphold a Sept. 9 burn ban, citing safety factors.
“A burn ban makes people madder than taxes,” Judge Chris Davis told the Cherokee County Commissioners' Court during its regular meeting. “Nobody is happy (about the ban) but it's all about safety … we will absolutely take that off as soon as it is feasible.”
The Sept. 9 burn ban was based on data obtained from the Texas A&M Fire Service, monitored daily for changes. Recent rains have helped saturate the ground in the county, but doesn't necessarily mean it is safe yet to lift the ban, Davis said after initially issuing the ban.
“Folks, we've got a long, thin, more than 60 miles-long (county). If it rains on one end, it doesn't rain on the other; there's spotting in one place and no rain in the other,” he told those attending the meeting. “The (drought index) is still very high, that a fire could start and burn, especially in the whole north end of the county.”
Precinct 4 Commissioner Billy McCutcheon said while “we're thankful for the rain we got,” areas of the county are “really still tender,” calling the decision to uphold the ban “justified.”
In other action, the court unanimously adopted a 59.5-cent property tax rate for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
The rate – assessed per $100 property valuation – remains unchanged for the last three years, and will generate funds for the county's recently adopted $22,747,936 budget.
During the meeting, the court also:
• Consider approved a request from Craft-Turney Water Supply to lay a utility line in Precinct 3, on County Road 1905;
• Authorized the county auditor's office to conduct an audit on all Chapter 59 Forfeiture Funds as required by the Code of Criminal Procedure;
• Approved several special budgets – a Special Revenue Fund,a Law Enforcement Education and a DA, Sheriff LEF and Constables LEF – as required by law;
• Signed a proclamation declaring the week of Oct. 7-11 as Texas Extension Education Agency Week. Cherokee County has two TEEA groups – one in Ponta, the other in Central High. Both have been in existence for 80-plus years.
• Accepted the resignation of a contracted company as the designated representative for environmental services for the county;
• Approved the transfer of a truck from the Sheriff's Office to Precinct 3;
• Approved a request to add workers' compensation coverage for upcoming election, beginning Oct. 1;
• Approved a request from Precinct 3 to amend budget transfer for $5,600 from Sundry account into Grease & Gasoline, and transfer $4,250 from Sundry to Tires, Tubes & Repair;
• Granted a Precinct 4 request to trade in a CAT 318 Excavator for purchase new backhoe from Buy Board; and
• Approved a consent agenda that includes the approval of Lots 1-4 of the Weidner Addition in Block No. 14 of the Jose Pineda survey Abstract No. 40 and the Juan Cristotonio Pineda survey, Abstract No. 448 – no roads; approval of Precinct 2 Constable Jack White's monthly report; and authorization of bill payment, payroll and transfer of funds.