ATHENS–The Athens Rotary Club heard how Henderson County stacks up against other counties in Texas by guest speaker Judge Wade McKinney at the May 30 meeting at the Athens Country Club.
Henderson County is the 48th largest county in the state and there are 254 counties in Texas. Henderson County is two counties wide and has no single authority presiding over its 26 individual departments. However the county does work with individual departments such as the EDC and the appraisal district, etc. The only department who have any authority is the commissioners court.
Henderson County is rated 106 in tax levy (not rate). And 182 counties in Texas have a higher tax rate than Henderson County. “Our tax rate is low and has not changed since 2009. Our tax rate is at .47, Kaufman County is at .58, Van Zandt County is .51 and Navarro County is at .59. And our county is debt free,” McKinney said.
The state of Texas does not have a property tax but it has a comptrollers office that appraises property values, which may result in higher values by the comptroller than by the county.
As far as the county’s activities, vote centers have been established that will accept anyone in any county and will collect early voting as well as election day voting. Right now, Henderson County voting centers are in Seven Points, Athens and Chandler.
The county needs another Emergency Communication System. It was built in the 1990s and is very antiquated. It does not have operations between juridictions. Many communications fall off due to topography of the county. Hearing what is being told to you is about 98 percent and someone hearing you speak out is around 92 percent. In order to improve that, the county needs to build five new towers.
“We also have an infrastructure challenge,” McKinney said. “We need to update bathrooms in the historical courthouse, update fire alarms and the parking lot at the judicial complex needs $300,000 worth of work.”
In the past years, the county has purchased and paid cash for the old Prosperity Bank building, updated the judicial software package for all computers, rotating 10 to 12 vehicles every year and launched a new website. “We have spent $20 million in the last 10 years” McKinney said.
“I’m proud of what we have done in the county, we’ve worked very hard,” McKinney said.
McKinney has served in the county for more than 20 years and considers the county his home. He resides in Eustace with his wife and four children.