Columns/Opinions

Thu
14
Mar

JUDGE: Proposed tax cap would further limit county services

For years our Texas Legislature has required counties to provide certain services for the citizens of the county such as indigent health care and indigent counsel.  However, the legislature does not provide funding for its mandates.  Thus, the county must pay for these services with its own funds.  Now the legislature is attempting to cap the amount of county taxing!  A tax cap sounds good, but this one would further limit the services the county provides.  

The mandated services are good ones, such as health care for the indigent. We have an excellent county health care program, but this costs our Milam County taxpayers. Our indigent counsel program provides a lawyer for an indigent person charged with a crime. However, this too costs the County money, which is paid for out of county taxes. I am not suggesting that we curtail or eliminate these programs, but simply that the State help fund them.  

Mon
04
Mar

JUDGE: Economic development is vital to success of county

By Steve Young, Milam County Judge

 

Economic development is critical to all of Milam County.  More business equals more jobs and more tax revenues. This week we had some very positive developments regarding economic development.  

BITMAIN

Bitmain came to Milam County last fall and the company leased buildings and other facilities to put in a bitcoin mining operation. Bitmain spent tons of money to renovate the old potrooms to raise ceilings and put in concrete floors.  However, the price of the bitcoin went down with the stock market and the company decided to halt its operations.  

Wed
13
Feb

POLICE BEAT: The speed limit is 30 in residential

Did you know that the speed limit on local roads (i.e. residential areas and downtown) is 30 mph unless marked otherwise like the school zone which is 20 mph? 

In recent events we’ve had many reports of vehicles speeding through residential areas as well as the school zone. 30 mph does not seem very fast until you’re standing still or even watching it come towards you. 

Something to remember is that our town is full of children that play in their yards and ride their bikes up and down roads near their homes.  

Imagine one of those kids come out in front of you will you are traveling 30mph, there is a greater chance of you hitting the child than you are stopping in time. It is important that we all obey the speed limit to avoid these kinds of tragedies and safe guard our neighborhoods.

Tue
05
Feb

JUDGE: County working on new funds for road maintenance

By Milam County Judge Steve Young

 

Have you ever complained about your county commissioner?  My road needs grading.  My road has potholes.  Why don’t they come out and fix my roads?  You probably have.  I know I have, as I too live off a county road.  So why isn’t your road graded and/or the potholes fixed?

Fri
01
Feb

POLICE BEAT: Contact the fire department before burning

There have been several reports of small fires burning leaves and twigs around town. 

Unless permitted by the Cameron Volunteer Fire Department this is a fineable offense. Burning in town can be hazardous to all those who live near. Embers that fly through the air make it possible for fires to spread without knowledge. An ember landing in a yard or in a gutter on a home can lead to disaster very quickly. 

Please be sure to contact your local Fire Department in the city and the county when planning a burn to gain permission from the department. This also allows them to notify law enforcement and avoid unnecessary emergency response. 

For more information on burning contact the Cameron Volunteer Fire Department at (254) 697-4702.

Mon
21
Jan

Time to work together to move county forward

By Milam County Judge Steve Young

 

As your new County Judge, I am compelled to thank Judge Barkemeyer and our County Commissioners, including Commissioners Watkins, Shuffield, Fisher and Muegge for an excellent job of leading the county through eight of the toughest years since the Great Depression.  

The loss of Alcoa and Luminant took a heavy toll on every citizen, every business and every organization of the county. However, in spite of this hardship, the county has survived and prospered.  

Your county government is in good shape and financially stable. The county is still providing all of the services it provided prior to the closings, without a significant increase in taxes. We will continue to provide those services, including maintaining almost 1,000 miles of county roads, law enforcement through our fine new Sheriff White, four Constables and four Justices of the Peace. 

Thu
02
Aug

County budget includes tax rate increase

By Milam County Judge David Barkemeyer

 

The Commissioner’s Court has the proposed 2019 budget plan ready to be posted which includes a proposed three-cent increase in the 2018-19 county tax rate to 73 cents per $100 of valuation.

I will be holding budget meetings around the county the last few days of August and we will hold two public hearings before voting on the final budget and tax rate in the Sept. 10 Commissioner’s Court meeting.  

There was considerable debate among the five of us this time on whether to raise the tax rate at all or to leave it at 70 cents, and we were almost equally divided on the issue. I’ll accept all the blame for the proposed 2019 budget containing the three-cent increase.  Here’s why.

Mon
30
Jul

County budget planning is in progress

By Milam County Judge David Barkemeyer

 

Commissioner’s Court is in the midst of working out a proposed county budget plan for 2019.  We have completed our meetings with each of the county department heads and county elected officials.  In all cases we are either making reductions in next year’s expense budgets or holding the departments at the same level as their 2018 budgets.

As a result we will be proposing to reduce the 2019 General Fund expense budget overall by some $340,000 and we will be reducing the total tax revenue allocated to the four commissioner’s precincts by at least $500,000.  They will be reducing their expenditures accordingly.  These reductions will no doubt, at least in some instances, result in a reduction in our ability to deliver county services to you as effectively as before.  In fact, we’re already making some of these cuts, and gauging by some of the complaints I’ve been getting, it’s already happening.

Thu
12
Jul

County begins budget planning

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

This week we begin the process of planning the 2019 county budget.  The commissioners and I and our auditor, Danica Lara will meet with each of the elected officials and department heads to discuss their departmental budgets, and then Commissioner’s Court will put together the proposed budget and tax rate for next year.

As county budget director, I’m responsible for the overall direction of the effort.  In past years, I have asked each to come to the meeting ready to discuss their department’s needs and requests including their thoughts on pay increases.

Tue
15
May

The challenge that lies ahead

By David Barkemeyer, Milam County Judge

 

Unfortunately these last few months of my tenure as county judge are going to have to be largely dominated by the unsavory task of having to put together a county budget plan for 2019 that is faced with another significant drop in ad valorem tax revenue due to another major decline in the county’s tax base.

I’m sure a lot of you out there are saying, “What are you talking about? I just got my letter from the Appraisal District and my house and/or land or business valuation just went up big time.”  Well, mine did, too.

But I also just received a letter of “Certification of 2018 Preliminary Values” for all of Milam County and the net taxable value has decreased to $1.509 billion with the freeze adjusted value being at $1.274 billion.

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