Commissioners adopt new tax rate, jail price

By Lisa Treiber-Walter —

“Biting the bullet” and moving ahead on what are being described as some of the biggest decisions in the county’s history, Gillespie County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday, Sept. 9, to:

• Approve a $30 million budget for 2014,

• Hike the property tax rate by 6.69 cents, and,

• Approve a $12,073,877 guaranteed maximum price proposal for contruction of the new jail.

“We don’t like it any more than you do, but we’ve got to bite the bullet and move on,” Commissioner Billy Roeder told a county courtroom packed with citizens who shouted out such things as “We need an additional hearing!” and “We demand a revote!”

In the end, however, those folks were told that their time to speak had come and gone at the county’s previous public hearings on the jail issue last summer and during the county’s budget and tax rate hearings held Aug. 30 and Sept. 3.

“I appreciate all the phone calls I’ve had, but now is not the time to complain,” Commissioner Curtis Cameron said. “The time to complain was before the (jail) bond issue was even voted on.

“Most of our budget increase has come from the bond issue to build a new jail,” Cameron confirmed, adding that the process started over two years ago with a study to see if a new jail was, in fact, needed.

Affirming the decision was the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, who has allowed the Gillespie County Jail to continue operating under waivers in spite of overcrowding issues.

After that, studies began on jail designs and costs.

 “As a court, we didn’t want to spend that much money without letting the people of the community decide on it so we decided to have the bond election,” he said.

“We all know that there were 6,323 who voted for the bond election (in November 2012), 4,188 who voted against — exactly 60.15 percent for and 39.85 percent against,” Commission Donnie Schuch said.

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