ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) – A one and a half cent property tax hike, that's how much Angelina County commissioners say it will take to overcome serious budget shortfalls.
It would also boost the salaries of county employees.
Thursday night's tax hearing offered no shortage of strong opinions.
Some residents say a recession is not the time for a pay raise.
"Ya'll want to raise our taxes so ya'll can get a raise on our expense," said one man.
Angelina County Judge Wes Suiter explains a cent and a half tax hike would allow 400 county employees to receive a five percent cost of living increase.
"We didn't give them an increase last year when we reduced taxes so it was just something that the court decided this year in order to try and retain the quality of our employees we have to be able to provide the services for the residents of Angelina County," explained Suiter.
The room was divided by those who don't support the tax hike and the county workers who say they deserve a raise.
"I don't think right now when you are in a deficit is the time for a raise," said one woman.
"We all are tax payers as well and they all need it."
Suiter listened to concerns and also tried to clear up confusion.
"The average appraisal value of a home in Angelina County, the $92,000, that's not something we have any control over. We don't appraise property, we don't set values on the property that's done by the Appraisal District."
Suiter says the board is doing their best to maintain a balanced budget.
"Our tax rate has pretty much remained flat from 2005 or 2006. We've only increased a half a cent since then. You know we're the largest county in deep East Texas and we've got the fourth lowest tax rate."
He says the tax hike would help improve county services for its residents.
There will be another public hearing Tuesday at 9 a.m. before the final budget is announced on September 14th.