Thursday, January 24, 2008







Property tax deadline Jan. 31
Monitor Staff Reports
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–With the new year comes the property tax payment deadline.
All ad valorem (property) taxes – county, school and city (where applicable) – are due Thursday, Jan. 31.
Starting Friday, Feb. 1, a 7 percent penalty is levied, and penalties and interest begin to accrue on the due amount at 2 percent each month until July.
By July, the penalty has increased to 33 percent, and typically after that time, the account is turned over to delinquent tax collection agencies after an additional 1 percent penalty is tacked on.
Legal fees incurred in collecting the past-due taxes often eat up 15 percent or more of the delinquent tax amount.
If you are over 65, you can pay property taxes through quarterly installments, due Jan. 31, March 31, May 31 and July 31.
Properties can be seized in lieu of back taxes and sold on the courthouse steps to the highest bidder.
If a property fails to sell, taxing entities (usually the school district) take possession, and can sell the property via sealed bids.
Once seized, homesteads can be redeemed up to two years after being sold at auction, but the redeeming property owner will have to cough up the sale price plus 50 percent.

City loses tax hike in rollback election
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer

MALAKOFF–Malakoff voted itself a tax cut last weekend.
With a final count of 167 to 127, city voters approved cutting the tax rate from 35 cents to 22 cents per $100 valuation during Saturday’s rollback election.
The city council had set the rate at 35 cents, an increase of about 12 cents in September.
Mayor Pat Isaacson fought back tears after the election results were announced Saturday night, saying, “I really don’t know what we’re going to do.”
The rollback effort was initiated in October when Phil Tucker and David Thompson, under the name “Malakoff Citizens for Lower Taxes,” collected 193 signatures on a petition asking for the action.
“The voters have spoken, and that’s all we wanted,” Tucker said Monday.
Malakoff now has the second lowest tax rate in the state for cities of comparable size, according to a survey conducted by The Malakoff News in late September, 2007,
For the survey, the newspaper contacted the 13 Texas cities with a population between 2,233 and 2,275 – that’s plus or minus 25 of Malakoff’s 2,257.
The only city with a lower rate than Malakoff is Morton in West Texas with a tax rate of 20 cents per $100 valuation. Morton is geographically half the size of Malakoff (1.4 miles compared to Malakoff’s 2.8 miles) and does not have a police department.
The city council was scheduled to canvass the vote Wednesday night. After the canvass, Isaacson said she expected the council to set dates for additional meetings to find ways to pare away $150,000, the increased tax was to cover.
The city also has to figure out how to refund taxes which have already been paid.
“We’re going to have to have some workshops on the budget,” Isaacson said. “I don’t have a whole lot of answers right now.”
Isaacson said one of the first areas the city might look at is overtime, which would likely impact services.
“We are going to have to put an absolute halt on all overtime and that could very well mean, if your plumbing gets stopped up in the middle of the night, nobody shows up,” she said.
“Overtime is very expensive and we’ve always been – particularly with the water and sewer – we’ve been very, very lenient. We’ve had guys get called at night and they’ve gone out, and we’ve always done it. This is something that could be the very first on the list to go,” she said.


Police seize mushrooms, drugs, cash at traffic stop
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Reporter

GUN BARREL CITY–More than $2,600 in cash and six to eight pounds of marijuana were found in a Jeep, following a traffic stop in Gun Barrel City.
But that’s not all, 25 Valium® tablets and a stash of preserved hallucinogenic mushrooms were found in the center console, along with $1,000 in cash, investigator Kaylynn Newbill reported.
A motorist made a call to report the driver of the Jeep was veering into oncoming traffic around 6:30 p.m. Monday on West Main Street.
Officer Nick Stewart responded to the call, pulling over the driver, Eddie Charles Gunderson of Kemp.
The officer detected the smell of alcohol and directed the 54-year-old to step out for a sobriety test.
Upon failing the test, Gunderson was taken into custody and charged with DWI.
He had $760 in cash on him. The car was impounded.
While making an inventory of the contents of the vehicle, Stewart found another $900 in the right passenger’s seat and the controlled substances.
Sgt. Patrick Johnson assisted in the arrest and inventory of the vehicle.
In addition to the DWI charge, Gunderson was charged with
• possession of marijuana five to 50 pounds,
• possession of a controlled substance, 4-200 grams (for the mushrooms) penalty level 1, and
• possession of a controlled substance under 28 grams (for the Valium®) penalty level 3.
He was taken to Henderson County Jail, where he is being held on bonds totaling $32,500.


Sweet stories sought
Special to The Monitor
CEDAR CREEK LAKE– The Monitor is seeking your stories about people you love most.
Your sweetheart stories will be published on Valentine’s Day, Thursday Feb. 14.
Include a photograph of your loved one, or of the two of you together along with your story.
All submissions should include the writer’s name and phone number where you can be reached and be delivered to The Monitor no later than Friday, Feb. 8.
Stories should be composed of no more than 800 well-chosen words. All copy is subject to editing for clarity, grammar, conciseness and style.
The Monitor reserves the right not to publish any stories it deems inappropriate.
Submissions may be made via e-mail to  Digital photos may be sent by e-mail as large jpeg or tif files. Submissions may also be carried or mailed to The Monitor, 1316 S. Third St., Mabank, 75147. It is located at the back of Groom & Sons’ parking lot.



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