Medina County Tax rate approved on 2-1 vote; meetings moved to new County Annex

On Sept. 23, 2021 at 9a.m. the first commissioner’s court meeting held in the new Medina County Courthouse Annex building began with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Commissioners Jerry Beck, David Lynch, Larry Sittre and County Judge Chris Schuchart addressed many items on the agenda in the absence of Commissioner Timothy Neuman.
Tax Rates Set
The 2021 Medina County Tax Rate was approved with Lynch and Sittre voting for it, and Beck against. The tax rate is lower than last year, but because of new property and higher appraisals, the rate will raise about $1.7 million more revenue than last year.
When discussing the approval of the FY2021/2022 Medina County Budget, County Judge Schuchart explained the effects taxes would have on the budget.
“Also, just for the public to know, this also includes a tax decrease of over 2 cents a 100 in this budget. A tax rate decrease,” Schuhart said. “So we’re raising more money and we have decreased the tax rate on this budget.”
The order for adopting the Medina County 2021 Tax Rate states that the county will be officially adopting a tax rate of 52.23 cents, raising the amount of taxes collected effectively by 3.51%. The rate will raise more taxes for maintenance and operations than last year. Since the tax rate is slightly lower than last year, it will result in approximately $-25.90 impact on a $100,000 home.
Property tax revenue has been steadily climbing in the county. In 2020, property tax revenues increased by $772,324 to $20,114,942 because of increased appraisal values and new developments added to the rolls.
This year’s budget will raise about $1,729,086 more in tax revenue than last year’s budget, an increase of 8.48%. The property tax revenue to be raised from new properties is $750,520.
Commissioner Larry Sitter explained the court’s decision.
“Just to let the court, and these people know, about six years ago, I think it was, we borrowed money from the precincts to balance our budget. For us to come where we are out there today is great,” Commissioner Sittre said.
But Commissioner Jerry Beck, who had voted in opposition to this Tax Rate adoption, had more to say.
“Your taxes went down if your home appraisal didn’t go up – but everybody’s appraisal went up,” Beck said. “So you still come out paying more taxes.”
“We could have lowered it to what used to be called the effective rate, now known as ‘the no-new revenue’ tax rate, which is what I was gonna go for because times are tough….unless you have a six figure salary,” Beck said.
“What gets me is that they (the state) calls it the voter approved rate, when the voters didn’t approve it,” Beck said.
The 52.23 cent rate adopted is allocated as follows: .3688 of what the Tax Rate will earn will be allocated to the General Fund, .0911 will go to the Farm to Market and .0624 will be allocated to debts.
“But it basically has a debt rate of a little over 6 cents a hundred. 6.24 cents a hundred, it’s got y’alls road and bridge rate stays the same at 9.11 cents a hundred and the general fund tax rate goes down a couple of cents to .3688 a hundred,” Judge Schuchart said. “Two years ago it was about 40, so we have in the last few years lowered down to 36 a hundred. And we hope to continue doing that.”
The meeting began with the approval of Payroll #19 for the period ending Sept. 17, 2021 and Treasurer Glenda Moody started off the discussion on the personnel action forms.
“Effective Oct. 10, 2021, it’s an increase 5% for employees except for temp employees,” Moody said. “Elected officials have a 4% raise, so this is a blanket PAF for every employee.”
Moody then moved on to address the next item on the list, a revision of the policy on Military Leave.
“Any Medina County Employee, it’s about the middle of the page, who is a member of the Texas military forces or reserve component of the armed forces or a member of the state or federally authorized urban search and rescue team called to state active duty by the governor or another appropriate authority in response to disasters in counting up to seven days of paid disaster leave per fiscal year,“ Moody said.
Moody explained to the court that the policy was a state policy and that it would give certain Texas military personnel additional paid leave during a crisis.
“This leave is in addition to the paid leave provided,” Mood said. “So if you’re military and already get 15 days, this leave is in addition to that additional seven days for disaster. And they do not lose sick time or vacation time or anything like that. “
All Commissioners and the County Judge approved this military leave policy revision.
Within the same hour, the court approved a changed in the wage rate for precinct Foremen positions within Medina County.
“If we raise all Foremen from the minimum, and then add 5% on top of that. They would all be at the same rate of pay,” Moody said.
This wage shift would only include those who currently have a CDL, or Commercial Driver’s License. If someone is hired without a CDL, budget adjustments will have to be made and addressed.
The discussion and possible approval of the Sept. 9, 2021 Commissioners Court Meeting Minutes followed, but was tabled over the absence of a key speaker.
Medina County Treasurer Debbie Southwell stood to explain specifics during the discussion and ultimate approval of line item transfers. The county clerk wanted to allocate money to office supply; the extension office purchased a computer and some departments wanted to make end of fiscal year purchases.
The Nueces Power Equipment Purchase Contracts of a 2020 Globe Lowboy Trailer and Water & Emulsion Pump for Precinct Paving Crew Reclaimer was approved, along with the accounts payable.
Capitol Aggregates, Inc. made a donation for improvements on County Road 265 where they are located in Medina County Mico, Texas.
“A total of $185,641 dollars, for those that are interested, in materials to improve, I guess, for precinct 1 to use in their material,” Commissioner David Lynch said.
Citizen’s Comments
After a break, the meeting resumed at 10a.m. and the court opened up to visitor and public comments. Bruce Alexander, Superintendent of East Medina Water (EMSUD) and Current Vice President of the Texas Rural Water Association, stepped up to represent East Medina and rural water systems.
“I’m here today to make a request for the Commissioners of Medina County to consider the release of some of the rescue funds…earmarked, designated for water waste monitoring projects,” Alexander said.
Alexander told the court that the money would be used for emergency situations such as the Texas Freeze in February.
“I’m here asking for a portion of those funds to be divided to all the water systems, to fund emergency generators, emergency improvements, to avoid widespread water outages and like the events of February,” Alexander said.
According to Alexander, rural water systems provide services to more than 10,000 accounts, representing more than 35,000 residents of Medina County and more than half of the county. This money would also be used to help with costs of infrastructure needed to meet the needs of the rural communities in Medina County and to support their staff and loss of operations experienced during COVID-19.
“Everyone knows, as most people know, that most counties in the states received response from the federal support fund plan that was passed at one point in March. Most counties got funding, most cities got funding, but as rural water systems we have to look to the counties to request money,” Alexander said.
The County Judge invited Alexander to put something together and meet with him to come up with a potential solution.
Public Improvement Districts
Closing to public comment, the meeting resumed with the approval of several PIDs, Public Improvement Districts. A PID is when properties come together in a city or county to provide additional services and improvements to a district such as street cleaning and promotion. To help pay for these added services, the city or county charges the property owners of that district an extra tax assessment.
The approvals were for the Orders of an Annual Service Plan and an Assessment Plan relating to Potranco Acres Public Improvement District, Potranco Oaks Public Improvement District Number One, Potranco Ranch Public Improvement District Number One, Potranco Ranch Public Improvement District Number Two, and the Enclave at Potranco Gardens Public Improvement District Number One.
The motion to approve of the resolution approving and authorizing publication of Notice of Public Hearing regarding the possible creation of Tally Ho Public Improvement District Number One was also taken in this discussion. McCall, Parkhurt & Horton LLP Clay Binford represented the County in this discussion and further explained the reason for bringing the Tally Ho Project to the court that day.
“We’ve received a petition from the developers of an apartment property in…a development project based on a petition for a public improvement district,” Binford said.
The Tally Ho Project currently plans to have 800 units, using 228 acres off of Co Road 211.
“This is not an approval of anything, other than the acceptance of the petition, finding that the administration has completed and authorized the publication of a public hearing that we’re planning on having on the second commissioners meeting in October, the 21st,” Binford said.
Special Road Tax for Precinct 2 Castroville area
The order for adopting the 2021 Medina County Pct. 2 Special Road Tax Rate was also passed, stating Medina County will be officially adopting a tax rate of $0.0500 cents.
“Since this road tax has been taken into effect and that’s been about five or six years ago…we have paved 85 miles of road, and it’s going on six years,” Commissioner Sittre said. “I’ve got four more miles of road, of unpaved road to pave. Then we’ll start over after that, start tearing up some of the bad old ones, and we have a few, we just bought the equipment. And I’m assuring you your money is being spent on roads and precinct buildings.”
Voting machine mandate
The possible action on quotes for voter equipment upgrade was tabled due to an absence of a key speaker. This is regarding a mandate that is unfunded for an extra voting machine that counts votes and costs around $380,000.
“Of course we’ve got some grant money and we’re going to get more grant money,” Commissioner Lynch said.
Meeting chair appointed
The court discussed and designated Commissioner Lynch to chair the meeting in the Judge’s absence.
Amanda Park-New subdivision
The court made a preliminary approval of Amanda Park Subdivision; located in Precinct 2 off of CR 381 with BGE, Inc. Engineer Omar Rodriguez representing the company to discuss the plan with the court.
“This is something brand new to Medina County,” Commissioner Sittre said. “These are all town homes. There are 120 units and there are 2 homes in each one. It’s sitting on 12 acres of property.”
Sittre explained that this is only a preliminary construction plan but they have been working on this plan for a year and that BGE, Inc. is currently going through the motion of getting a sewer hooked up. The plan sees the townhomes running through the school district on the west and getting an acceleration lane.
“This thing is going to be a tremendous asset to the county. I think it’s something in the area that we definitely needed. We do not have anything like it in Medina County,” Commissioner Sittre said.
There was no Executive Session and due to lack of sealed bids, the construction of a 120’ X 120’ engineered metal storage building to be placed at the Sheriff’s Office storage/animal control lot, and it was moved to the next agenda.
New subdivision on Calame Store Rd
There was no motion taken on the agenda item to approve, vacate and replat preliminary Tract 2 out of Lot 8 for a new subdivision proposed outside Devine at 2507 County Road 5710. This is located in precinct 4.
Commissioner Beck stated that the subdivision developers want to build across from Calame store, which is possibly in the flood plain. He stated it was not and will not be approved until the necessary steps have been taken. The preliminary plan includes 4 tracts (1.2 acres each) and another 5.972 acres of land.
By Christian Toler
News Correspondent