On Friday, the Navarro County Commissioner’s Court met in a special meeting to determine whether to approve the proposed tax rate for 2022, at 0.5173 per $100 valuation.
Commissioners heard discussion regarding the tax rate beginning with Thomas McNutt, citizen, and businessman of Navarro County. McNutt stated, “Forget appraisals, rates, budgets; what I said last time was true then and it’s true now. The state allows you as the county to collect 3 ½% more revenue than you collected the year before. What you have elected to do is to rake in as many dollars as you can without going to the voters. That is what I am asking you to reconsider.”
McNutt continued, “Please consider some give in good faith, some compromise in the tax rate. I would appreciate the consideration.”
Corsicana city councilman Chris Woolsey stated, “If you choose the no new revenue tax rate, the county will gain more money than they did last year, just due to the growth of the county.”
County Judge HM Davenport stated, “The amount of money it costs to run that operation across the street will blow you away. You have no idea what it costs to keep you safe.”
Judge Davenport continued, “He’s short 25 employees, and most of them in corrections. You have to try to build to keep what you got and hire the people it is going to take to keep the jail functional. No other city in Navarro County has a jail. We are the designee of keeping prisoners, misdemeanor, or felony.”
The Navarro County Jail also houses inmates awaiting transfer to state or federal facilities, while a bed is located, to which the county receives minimal reimbursement from the state. During incarceration at the Navarro County Jail, inmates are entitled to medical care and in some cases legal representation that is provided to them.
For 2022 to date, the jail has spent $5,241,232.29 in payroll – 72 positions in jail with 17 positions vacant. The sheriff’s department has its own budget and expenditures with payroll listed to date $4,034,191.78 to date 49 positions with 7 positions vacant.
Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner stated, “The correctional facility belongs to the commissioner’s court. I am the manager of that facility and understand that is a work in progress. I stand exceptionally proud with my track record with fiscal responsibility with your taxpayer dollars.”
Commissioner Olsen stated, “It was published that we had a 5.09% tax rate increase, when it is actually a 14.42% decrease in our tax rate. It was reported as a ‘massive’ tax increase, and it was a mistake.” According to reports, Navarro County has dropped the tax rate 17.5% since 2018, while the City of Corsicana has only dropped the tax rate down to 15%.
“We’re trying to keep spending as conservative as possible, doing the best job we can with what we have to work with,” stated Commissioner Precinct 3 Eddie Moore.
Navarro County Commissioner Jason Grant stated, “I do know there is a tax burden on the citizens, but I also don’t want to do anything that is going to jeopardize the safety of our citizens or the services we are able to provide.”
Grant continued, “I have spoken to Corsicana City Manager, Connie Standridge and she has assured me the City of Corsicana will not be seeking any funds from the County for the ambulance service.” The County reserved $1,000,000.00 during the last budget year for Corsicana Fire Rescue’s now disabled EMS program.
Tax Assessor Mike Dowd stated, “When you start cutting those numbers, you are taking that money right off the salaried employees. Pick your poison. I don’t want anyone to discredit what hard work everyone throughout the county has done.”
Commissioner Moore continued, “To take a lower tax rate, we are going to have to remove some services. We (the County) have to remain solid as a business. If we don’t do that, then this commissioner’s court is incompetent. I would rule myself incompetent if I didn’t have enough money to run my business.”
The proposed tax rate would increase $19.40 per $100,000.00 valuation on a typical tax bill.
County Commissioners approved the tax rate at 0.5173 per $100 valuation with a vote of 3 to 2.