State can sue counties to increase property values, raises tax bill
GUN BARREL CITY–Making his first public speaking appearance as the newly-elected Henderson County Judge, Wade McKinney was the guest speaker at the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Gun Barrel City chapter breakfast at Chili’s in Gun Barrel City Jan. 17.
"We have about 80,000 residents in Henderson County," said the 24-year county employee McKinney. "In size, we’re number 50 out of 254 counties in the State of Texas."
McKinney said he can remember being a paper and pencil county to now relying on technology, demands of quicker responses and being a transparent entity.
The state government is very specific as to the county’s authority with each elected official having certain duties.
McKinney said that property taxes are a hot issue in Austin. He informed the chamber members and guests that the State of Texas’ Comptroller’s office can sue counties if they do not have their property values set as to what the State thinks they should be.
"The Legislature is manipulating property values and local governments are taking the hit," added McKinney.
"Municipalities determine the growth of the county," McKinney said. "We support local Economic Development Corporations to bring businesses into the county."
The county can offer tax abatement to new businesses, such as giving a five-year tax abatement to Biomerics in Athens. The company brought 200 jobs to the area.
McKinney is proud that the county is debt-free. The last debt, a $12 million jail expansion project, was paid off in 2016.
"We have kept our tax rate very low at 27 cents," said McKinney. "Low taxes attract new businesses."
Business spotlight speaker Patterson Insurance agent Derrick Hoelscher said that he is an independent insurance company and gets competitive rate quotes from many insurance companies for individual and business needs.
Several chamber members said they have been customers of Hoelscher for many years and have been happy with his pricing. He is located in Seven Points.
Chamber President Jo Ann Hanstrom reminded members that nomination forms will be sent out for the chamber awards banquet set for 6 p.m. Monday, Mar. 18 at Cedar Creek Country Club in Kemp.
The annual Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast is set for Mar. 20 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Gun Barrel City. Delivery is available.