GILMER — By a 4-1 vote, the Upshur County Commissioners Court approved a $16.8 million spending plan for next year.
The court was unanimous, however, in setting this year’s property tax rate at 61.5 cents per $100 valuation when it met Monday. The rate is 2 cents higher than last year and more than 3 cents higher than the county’s effective rate of 58.1952 cents.
That rate will mean a tax bill of $615 on a $100,000 home, with no exemptions claimed.
Commissioners also changed their regular meeting times to 10 a.m. and added Texas Independence Day to the county’s holiday schedule.
County Judge Todd Tefteller said that at one time he wanted to set the tax rate 3 cents higher than last year, but he credited County Auditor Connie Williams with trimming the plan.
The 2020 budget provides for employee raises of $1,200 a year, including elected officials, except for Tefteller. He has said county employee pay over the past 10 years has risen only about one-third compared with the cost of living.
Pct. 3 Commissioner Frank Berka was outvoted on the budget by the rest of the court, but when a question was raised asking him to explain his vote, Berka said, “No, I don’t want to respond to it.”
Berka was also the only nay on a 4-1 vote approving the county’s 2019-20 holiday and commissioners court meeting schedules. Berka said he wanted to keep commissioners court meetings at 9 a.m.
Tefteller asked that the court add March 2 to the county’s holiday schedule next year.
In other business, commissioners approved a contract with Allison, Bass & Magee LLP law firm of Austin to help the county in redistricting its precinct lines over the next three budget years.
Also, Tefteller asked each commissioner to nominate people from their respective precincts to serve on a 2020 Census Committee that the court approved Monday. The committee will help with next year’s census count, which will have a direct impact on redistricting.