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By Dakota McDonal/Post Dispatch—
A tax rate of $.7727 cents per $100 property valuation was unanimously approved during the Sept. 14 Garza County Commissioners Court meeting.
Landowner Jack Ham addressed the court during public comment, saying that raising the tax rate considering the previous year was not conscionable.
County Judge Lee Norman explained that the county has purposely maintained a low tax rate in previous years because property appraisals were expected to increase. However, according to reports from Pct. 1 Commissioner Jeff Williams, there has been an 8-percent decrease in property appraisals which necessitates the 8-percent increase in the tax rate.
Pct. 2 Commissioner Charles Morris thanked residents for coming to express their opinion on the tax rate but said he did not believe there was anything the court could do to lower the rate as budget cuts have already been made with more to come in the following budget year.
In county office reports, Emergency Management Coordinator Michael Isbell informed the court that the portable police radios have become out-of-date. Due to the original company no longer producing parts for the radios, repairs have become impossible. Isbell said that he and Sheriff Terry Morgan are currently searching for a grant which would allow them to aquire 20 new radios.
Additionally, Morgan reported that there are currently 86 inmates in the county jail, 51 of which are Garza County residents, 35 are from outside the county. To be sure that there are no COVID-19 outbreaks, Morgan said he is requiring out-of-county prisoners to be quarantined for 14 days prior to being incarcerated.
Morgan also reported that so far in 2020 there has been a total of 6,465 dispatch calls. Morgan said he believes COVID-19 is the reason behind the call increase.
With the state shutting down visitation at the prison, the commissioners approved the installation of an alternative inmate communication system which will allow video conference calls between inmates and their families.
For isolated inmates, the system has a portable phone system that can be wheeled to various locations. Wherever possible, installation providers will re-use existing station cabling. In cases where existing cabling cannot be used, the provider will install new station cabling at no cost. Fees will be charged to the contactor. Video visitation will be $0.35 per minute, messages will be $0.25 per message and picture and letter attachments will be $0.35 per attachment.
The commissioners also approved the Texas Department of Agriculture Texans Feeding Texas: Home-Delivered Meals Grant Program in which the county granted $2,000 to Garza County Trailblazers to provide home-delivered meals to homebound residents who are elderly and those who have disabilities.
The next regular meeting will be held at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29.