Columns/Opinions

Thu
10
Aug

Commissioners set county budget, tax rate

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

This year’s budgeting process has been one of making necessary adjustments as we come out of some three years of financial uncertainty caused by the substantial downward adjustment to the valuation of the Luminant property and the negative impact that the anticipated loss in revenue has had on county operations.

Thu
20
Jul

County begins 2018 budget

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

The commissioners and I have concluded meeting with each of the elected officials and department heads this past week to discuss their 2018 budget requests for their department, and now the five of us will now meet together in workshop sessions to prepare the final draft of next year’s county budget and proposed tax rate.  It will be ready for public viewing on the web site and at the county clerk’s office on Aug. 4.

Public hearings will be held in the county court room in the courthouse at 9 a.m. on Aug. 31 and Sept. 6.  I do not make presentations at these two meetings; they are scheduled in order to fulfill legal requirements to receive public comments. Last year a couple of you complained in those meetings that they were held during the day during working hours when it was difficult for working citizens to attend.

Thu
13
Jul

Texas 85th Legislature: The Ugly

By Rep. Terry Wilson

Texas House District 20

Over the last two articles, we looked at the good and the bad from the 85th Texas Legislative Session; first, how legislators from all sides came together to build a budget agreement, and then how a fight over differing political agendas brought the session to a stand-still that necessitated a special session this July. 

Now that I’ve given you the good and the bad, it’s time to face the ugly truths that set the stage for both. We have come to a place in our politics where persuasion isn’t even considered anymore, where cooperation is a dirty word, and where defeat of the opposition is the only option considered.  

One of the advantages of being a “freshman” legislator is that it enabled me to be just that, a fresh-man, one coming into this system from the outside, viewing it with fresh eyes, unaffected by its culture and history. 

Fri
30
Jun

County orders new voting equipment

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

At this week’s meeting, the Commissioner’s Court made the decision to purchase new voting equipment for the county to replace the old voting machines and tabulating equipment that had been in use for some ten or twelve years now.

Mon
12
Jun

New Thorndale building on the horizon

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

The Commissioner’s Court has taken action on a couple of items recently that I want to take time here to give you some further explanation as to why we have made these decisions. 

On May 23 we held a workshop session to discuss proposals we received from three accounting firms who had responded to our request for proposals to perform the county’s independent audit for 2016 and the two subsequent fiscal years.

Tue
06
Jun

Remember freedom is not free

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

Another Memorial Day has come and gone and again I was asked as a county official to stand on the court house square before the memorial to those Milam County citizens who died for our country and say a few words.

I always feel like I’ve got to somehow explain why. I say things like “freedom is not free,” these men died so we can remain free.  Last year I recalled the oath we all take when we enter the military or assume office wherein we swear to “defend the constitution of the United States.”

In last week’s article I commented that I would not be running for county judge again after this term due to term limits; the thought has occurred to me that a good reason for term limits is stress, like that caused by having to keep trying to answer difficult questions that always seem to come up to keep you squirming when you’re in public office.

Wed
24
May

SB 2 could change revenue caps

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

The battle at the Texas Legislature this time around has got to be confusing for many of you as it has your own elected officials pitted against each other over the property tax issue and related spending issues as well for that matter.

It starts at the top with the lieutenant governor and comes right down to us local officials including county judges, city officials, and school administrators.  If Senate Bill 2 or some derivative is defeated by the time the sessions ends on the 29th. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has promised to press for a special legislative session, and if one is called by the governor, certain state reps and senators have promised to shove revenue caps “down the throats” of us local officials who have lobbied so hard to block them during the regular session.

Thu
20
Apr

What is the average loss to scam victims?

By Ted Hubert

Milam County TRIAD

 

The Texas legal website Texaslegal.org dropped some unbelievable statistics on the Internet and I am anxious to pass this on to you. Be honest with yourself and keep score. This is an honor system that trusts those taking the challenge. 

Let’s start the five-question quiz now. What country generates the most scams that target American citizens? The answer is the United States of America. What is the average loss to scam victims? Answer is $2,000. 

How much money is lost each year nationwide? The answer is about 1.7 billion dollars. What percentage of scams are sent from con-artists living in the United States of America to their fellow citizens? The answer is 96 percent. Last but not least question, what age groups are targeted the most?                                                                                                                                           

Tue
07
Feb

Collecting taxes in Texas

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

The Texas Comptroller’s Office is required to publish tax information every two years in conjunction with the biennial session of the Texas legislature. This year is the first time that I have seen these numbers and I thought they were pretty interesting. Probably like me some of you haven’t looked at them before either, so first I’m just going to summarize them for you and then follow up with a few comments about Texas laws regarding our tax system and the politics involved.  You, no doubt, have your own opinions as well!

In 2015, local Texas governments (counties, cities, school districts, and special purpose districts like flood control, water, drainage, etc.) collected $52.2 billion in ad valorem taxes (up 6.3 percent from 2014) and $8 billion in local sales tax. This was 55 percent of all taxes collected in Texas (all numbers are 2015 because 2016 numbers are not compiled yet).

Sat
10
Sep

Thorndale officers receive proclamation

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge

 

Once in a while something happens that really makes it all worthwhile, makes you glad just to be able to say I knew those guys, was able to shake their hand and admire what they did.

We fuss about property values being raised, our taxes being increased, or worry over budgets and the like. I hear a lot of complaints and sometimes wonder whether it’s worth the effort.

Then Chief Jackson from Thorndale calls me and asks if Commissioner’s Court would do a special proclamation recognizing two of his officers, Michael Moehling and Kurt Kraemer who by quick response and application of life saving skills had recently saved a local citizen’s life.

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