People, Places & Events


VZC Commissioners eye new budget figures
By Wilbur Callaway
Monitor Correspondent

CANTON–The Van Zandt County Commissioners heard some big figures from Van Zandt County Auditor John Shinn Tuesday morning during a budget workshop pertaining to the FY 2007 budget.
Following a brief regular session, Shinn took chalk in hand and outlined figures for the past year and projected figures for the coming year.
He said the tax values for county property last year came to $1,228,764,669, with a tax rate of .42853. The debt rate was .05956, and the M&O rate .36297.
Shinn said the tax values for county property this year, set by the Van Zandt County Appraisal District, jumped to a staggering figure of $2,072,954,588, including new property values of $47,086,340.
“I think, according to my estimates, that the effective tax rate this year is going to be .05086 for debt and .32897 for M&O,” Shinn said.
“When property values go up, the tax rates go down,” he noted.
Shinn went on to say Van Zandt County has a negative $500,000 fund balance, but has $59,000 in a reserve fund.
The commissioners are looking at a 3 percent tax rate increase, which would bring in an additional $205,000. Shinn said, “This would not be real painful to the taxpayers.”
County Judge Rhita Koches said it is hoped the negative fund balance can be eliminated within three years.
The judge’s projected county budget was filed Monday, July 31, and budget hearings will be held throughout the month of August before it is adopted late in the month.

Baggett honored for commitment
Special to The Monitor
ATHENS–Richard Sanders, acting on behalf of Congressman Jeb Hensarling (TX-05), presented a United States flag to the Lakeland House Assisted Living Facility in honor of the contributions made by Osie Bagget to the Athens community.
The flag had previously flown over the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Baggett, a resident of the Lakewood House, served the Athens Independent School District for 38 years before retiring in 1984.
She was named Teacher of the Year in 1977, and later served on both the Athens school board and the Athens Economic Development Corporation.
“Mrs. Baggett touched the lives of countless students during her four decades of service,” Hensarling said.
“She has dedicated her life to encouraging children achieve and make the best of themselves. I am proud to present a flag from our nation’s capital to the Lakeland House in her honor,” he added.
Sanders, the district director for Hensarling, presented the flag in a ceremony at Lakeland House July 26.
Athens Mayor Pro Tem Bob Gould and former Athens Mayor Jerry King, both of whom worked with Baggett at the Athens Economic Development Corporation, also attended the ceremony.

Teachers start work early
Special to The Monitor
MABANK–Monday, the Mabank Middle School teachers attended an on-campus workshop to prepare for the coming school year.
The Mabank Middle School reached “recognized” status this year by increasing the level of instruction in all classes.
The aim will be to become “exemplary,” and the teachers are starting the year off with a bang.
The workshop is intended to enhance instructional strategies like note-taking and interactive notebooks.
In addition, it focused on using Love and Logic in the classroom, and providing peer mediation to students – all with the intent to raise the level of communication between students and adults.