Weeks of preparation, hearings, and meetings were culminated Tuesday with approval of the budget and the tax rate for the county by the Commissioners Court. Prior to the weekly meeting of the Court a public hearing was held concerning the budget under which the county will operate next fiscal year.
County Judge John Gothia reviewed a power point for those attending the public hearing. Gothia’s 40-minute presentation covered all the revenues and expenditures the county expects in its $48,503,633 budget next year.
During their meeting later the Commissioners unanimously approved the budget as presented by Judge Gothia. The Court was unanimous in adopting $0.542 per $100 value as the tax rate for the fiscal year which starts in October.
Approval of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the employees of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office was also unanimous by the Commissioners Court. This will be the first new contract for the union with the county since 2013. Gothia is very pleased to be able to reach a new agreement that includes a pay raise for the deputies.
There will be a waiting period before the new contract is finalized as the deputies are voting on the agreement. That is expected to conclude on Thursday. Then attorneys for both the county and the union will review the wording before both parties sign the document.
The Court approved increasing the Orange County Retiree’s benefit payment by a percentage based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index. Orange County’s lump sum payment would be $384,184 to the Texas County District Retirement System. This will maintain the Retirement Plan Rate of 15.85 percent. The raises go into effect on January 1, 2020.
The Commissioners accepted a raise in salaries for the Orange County Official Court Reporters. The court reporters’ salaries and any increase in their pay are recommended by the District Judges in Orange County.
Orange County will be supporting six community organizations in the upcoming year. The Commissioners Court approved donations to the organizations at a total of $87,508. The donations will be allocated as follows: the Orange Community Action Association, better known as Meals on Wheels $45,000; CASA $2,500; the Southeast Texas Resource Conservation and Development $500; the Spindletop Center $33,708; and the Garth House $5,000. Also included will be the City of West Orange’s Volunteer Fire Department for $800 to pay for its coverage with fire prevention of an unincorporated area near the city which is not in an Emergency Services District.
Fallon Foster and Tommy Byers with the County AgriLife Office presented their quarterly report to the Court. It was clear that the AgriLife’s programs have touched many of the residents in Orange County.
The Bridge City Independent School Board was recognized with a proclamation by the Court. The school district was singled out recently by the Region 5 Educational Service Center as the honor school board of the year for 2019. Superintendent Todd Lintzen was joined by trustees of the school board in accepting the proclamation.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-