Houston Co. Judge proposes tax increase

Houston Co. Judge proposes tax increase
A budget shortfall and record amounts of rain have cause Houston County Judge Erin Ford to look at raising taxes for the first time since 2012.
"I wouldn't raise taxes arbitrarily unless we had a shortfall in revenue which has come about," Ford said.
According to Ford Houston County tax valuations dropped from $1.43 billion in 2014, to $1,37 billion in 2015. Ford said the increase will help the county fund various projects. The increase would be an additional 3 cents for ever $100.
"The real part of it was the deterioration to  the roads from recent rain," Ford said. "Most of the increase would go to road and bridge to help with the rehabilitation of the roads."
Ford noted that the county has applied for federal assistance but has not received any answer yet on when the funding would be available. Ford would put an estimates $300,000 into the road and bridge fund from the added money.
Ford also pointed to the loss of East Texas Medical Center and the ambulance service as a reason for the increase.
"Lifeguard Ambulance has a 25 percent subsidy annual payment of $67,500 in conjunction with the Houston County Hospital Board for EMS service in the County," Ford said. "When ETMC EMS left, the burden of the operating costs was passed on to both the County and the Hospital. Lifeguard ambulance service has been a huge benefit for the county."
Other areas seeing added funds are a project for the restoration of the county courthouse, possible funds to purchase a radio transmission tower from ETMC, and covering cost of insurance premiums for county employees,
"Remember, this is only my proposal," Ford said. "We will have to see what the court decides on this."
The Houston County Commissioners Court will meet Aug.11 at 9 a.m. to discuss the budget.

CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) -  Copyright 2015 KTRE. All rights reserved.