Cherokee County commissioners held a public hearing Tuesday, Sept. 7, on the proposed 2021-2021 tax rate of $0.5800 per $100 property valuation.

The proposed tax rate is slightly less than the 2020-2021 tax rate of $0.582860. It is also less than the voter approval rate of $0.590749, a rate which would trigger an automatic election for approval.

The no new revenue rate, a tax rate that would generate the same amount of taxes as the previous year, is $0.561022 per $100 valuation.

The county auditor certified Cherokee County has spent $88,792 in the previous 12 months for the maintenance and operations cost of keeping inmates sentences the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, according to information provided at the hearing. The Cherokee County sheriff has provided the county with information on these costs, minus the state revenues received for the reimbursement of such costs. The result was calculated to increase the no new revenue tax by $0.000955 for every $100.

The county spent $257,473 from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 to provide appointed counsel for indigent individuals in criminal or civil proceedings, less the amount of state grants received. For the current tax year, the amount of increase above last year’s indigent defense compensation expenditures is $34,715, increasing the no new revenue rate by $0.000404 per $100 valuation.

Taken together, the state criminal justice mandate and indigent defense compensation expenditures, elevated the no new revenue rate by $0.001359, which had to be taken into account when considering the budget and the proposed 2021-2022 tax rate.

Two individuals spoke during the hearing, Jack McMullen, owner of the KOA in Rusk, and resident Hank Jones.

After noting the tax rate went down very slightly, McMullen stated the windfall gain from the appraisal district was much greater due to the increased appraisal rates.

“Our taxes the last five years have been anywhere from $10,000 tob$12,000 a year. Now they’re $50,000 a year,” McMullen said. “I don’t think anybody in Rusk is going to camp here for $100 a night.

“What I’m asking is you to take control of your appraisal district, you, the school district, the city, because it’s ridiculous what we’ve got.”

McMullen stated he wasn’t certain what he would do in the future, regarding the KOA, due to the high taxes and lack of tourist attractions in the city. He did note that if his business were to close, it would remove approximately $2 million dollars from the local economy.

Hank Jones also spoke to commissioners, expressing his opposition to the proposed tax rate.

After closing the hearing, the meeting was adjourned.

A vote on the tax rate is scheduled for the regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 14.

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