Cooke County Approves $ 30 Million Price range; postpones Indian Creek elections to November | Native information

Cooke County will rely on a mix of local property tax dollars, its general fund balance, and state incentive funds to pay its bills next year.

The District Commissioner’s Court approved a $ 30 million budget for fiscal year 2022, which begins October 1. It includes both a seven percent increase for the employees of the district and a reduction in the property tax rate by one cent from this current financial year. The district’s fleet is expanded to include two new ambulances.

District Commissioner Leon Klement was the only voice of the court against the budget. He noted the seven percent for white-collar workers and wondered aloud if it wasn’t “putting too much pressure on local businesses” to raise their wages. He said five percent seemed more appropriate.

The other commissioners accepted it politely. District 1 Commissioner Gary Hollowell and District Judge Steve Starnes each determined that the district’s employees did not receive a raise last year due to the economic uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, not even the cost of living.

Hollowell added that the US dollar bailout bill money would allow the court to put the tax ceiling in place for the next year – property tax rates will drop from 42 cents to 41 cents per $ 100 of the estimated valuation.

“I also agree because it’s ARPA money,” said District 2 Commissioner Jason Snuggs. “… It was tough last year when we said we weren’t doing anything (for employees).”

Klement was compassionate, but held on to his position.

“But it’s still someone’s money,” he countered, which Snuggs admitted.

Starnes also talked about Cooke County’s public safety wages lagging behind the city of Gainesville and well below the salary and benefit packages that are paid around the Dallas / Ft area. Metroplex worth it.

“In the end we are the training ground for the metroplex … we had a significant growth rate this year, we should share that with our employees,” said Starnes.

In other areas, the county will hold an election this November to determine whether Indian Creek will have an emergency services district to better fund its volunteer fire department. District officials have been hoping to hold the election next spring, but the Texas Secretary of State has overruled the plan and instructed them to do so later this year.

The department was founded in 2012. Indian Creek Fire Department, 62 square miles (39,680 acres) with a population of 4,000 and Lake Kiowa, has seen an increase in calls in recent years. The district’s board of directors draws on a $ 11,500 annual grant from Cooke County and income from various fundraising drives.

The lack of steady income and volunteers has led the district board to seek permission to establish the emergency service district. This would allow the introduction of a property tax of up to 10 cents per $ 100 of federal value to fund fire and emergency services.

The fire department, like many rural departments in the United States, had difficulty recruiting and retaining volunteers. According to the district’s website, there are only four volunteers available to handle most calls, with another 15, availability varying.

The Indian Creek Fire Brigade Committee is due to arrive at its main station, 550 Kiowa Dr. West, Lake Kiowa, meet to discuss next steps. The next meetings take place on the second Monday of each month.