Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mabank ISD lowers tax rate
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–A public hearing on the adoption of a tax rate of $1.674 per $100 valuation Monday was unattended by any of Mabank Independent School District voters.
Business manager Scott Adams explained the proposed rate and the unusual motion required by the state legislature.
While the motion reads that property taxes be increased by the adoption of the tax rate, last year’s rate was $1.76 per $100 valuation, resulting in a nine-cent decrease.
The rate for the 2006-07 school year will be $1.334 for maintenance and operations, and 34 cents for debt service.
The total amount of outstanding and unpaid bonded indebtedness for the district is $41,771,327.
The motion also included the state mandated words: “The tax rate will raise taxes for maintenance and operations on a $100,000 home by approximately $-126.”
Appraised values on property across the district were raised, which may increase the payment for some taxpayers.
The motion states the rate will raise more taxes for maintenance and operations than last year’s rate ($1.46 per $100 valuation).
Trustees also approved the 2006-07 budget, totaling $22,328,177.
The largest single budget item was payroll and payroll-related items, totaling $17,489,247.
“As a general rule, approximately 80 percent of a budget is devoted to payroll,” Adams said.
In other business, trustees:
• heard the accountability ratings for the high school.
MHS is a Recognized high school, one of two so named in the area.
High school principal Tommy Wallis said while the other high school reached Recognized status because it made good improvements, it did not meet criteria requiring a certain number of students to make the passing grade of 70 on their Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test.
The required number of MHS students tested 70 or better, he said.
• heard the monthly report from Richard Crump of Claycomb Associates on the construction progress at the new high school.
For August, the rooftop air-conditioning units were installed in several areas, the concrete seating risers were installed in the competition gym, electrical and plumbing rough-in work installed in the E&F upstairs areas, and the goalposts at the football and band practice fields are set up.
The new MHS construction has passed the half-way mark, with 51 percent completed.
• approved the application of the grant for the Governor’s Excellence Award.
• approved the first reading of Local Policy Update 78, by a 6-1 vote, as trustee Cindy Holstein voted no.
• awarded the fuel bid to Borders & Long Oil Inc. of Kaufman.
• agreed to remove penalty and interest on two delinquent tax customers on a 4-3 vote, with trustees Michael Cathey, Kenneth Odom, Gary Sapp and Holstein voting for, and Darrell Kinnard, Scott Tuley and Dean Fannin opposing.
• heard Superintendent Russell Marshall discuss future items to be considered – the stadium track will be needing work, at some point, the home sign needs to be moved, and an appraisal of the warehouse in Seven Points must be done.
Once the new high school opens, the current high school will probably sit empty for a year, he said.
“This will give us time to assess the affect of the new high school and to do remodeling and make repairs,” Marshall explained.
• heard the superintendent’s report.
Marshall said the marquees and scoreboards are ready to be delivered.
School openings went smoothly, Marshall said, and consideration for standardized dress has been postponed.
“I feel like our kids are doing a good job. I don’t feel like we ought to take that away from them,” Marshall said.

County proposes tax increase
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KAUFMAN–A split vote set in motion the legal actions necessary to adopt a proposed 2.45-cent tax increase for Kaufman County.
Commissioners approved the increase Monday by a 3-2 vote, with County Judge Wayne Gent breaking the tie.
Gent, Precinct 1 Commissioner Jerry Rowden and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Deller voted in favor of the increase.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Ken Leonard and Precinct 3 Commissioner Kenneth Schoen voted no.
The total proposed tax rate is 56.22 cents per $100 valuation, with 46 cents designated for the general fund, 6.80 cents for Road & Bridge and 3.42 cents for interest and sinking (debt service).
The county owes $21,790,00 on bond indebtedness.
For an average home (appraised value $119,714), taxes would total approximately $673, or about $77 more than last year, if the proposed tax rate is approved.
Commissioners also set two public hearing dates – at 10 a.m. both Monday, Sept. 11, and Thursday, Sept. 14.
A public hearing was also set for 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 18, on the proposed fiscal year 2007 budget.
In other business, commissioners:
• accepted the 2006 appraisal roll as the 2006 tax roll, as presented by tax assessor/collector Richard Murphy.
• approved the sheriff’s and constable fees for 2007, with no changes.
• approved the list of early voting locations and election day locations for the Nov. 7 General Election as presented.
• authorized purchasing agent Jack Sabastian to advertise for bids to provide and install concrete at the planned Precinct 4 Convenience Station, now under construction in Kemp.
Sabastian said bidding will close Friday, Sept. 15. Bids will be opened at 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 18.
• awarded the bid for county HVAC services to Combine Mechanical of Combine.
Bi-annual inspections of heating and air-conditioning will be at no charge, although there will be a $91 per hour rate for other services, and equipment technician time is $77 per hour.
• amended the Precinct 3 budget for salaries through Sept. 30.
• set a 30 mph speed limit for county roads 301, 312, 340, 345 and 355 in Precinct 3.
• approved a request from Embarq to install buried communications drops in Precinct 4.
• approved budget transfers as presented by auditor Hal D. Jones.
• paid bills totaling $321,044.44.