Tuesday, August 28, 2012

County Judge Jim Lewis to retire 9/30, tax hike: $.02

Waco - Moments after the Commissioners Court voted a 2-cent tax hike, County Judge Jim Lewis announced he will retire on Sept. 30, the last day of the fiscal year.

Having served as County Judge for more than 20 years, Judge Lewis said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family. His wife is retiring next month, also.

Forty years ago, the Judge joined the McLennan County Sheriff's Office, was elected to the Commissioners Court, then as County Judge in 1990.

The vote to raise the tax rate came after an agonizing series of hearings, meetings, and frustrating efforts to cut spending. The proposed tax hike was for $.049, but the Court split 3 to 2 on a rise of only 2 cents, which will cost an owner of a median level $100,000 home about $20 more per year. Commissioners Ben Perry and Kelly Snell voted against the measure.

The judge's current term of office expires in the year 2014. According to the Texas Constitution, the Commissioners Court will be obliged to name a replacement to fill the unexpired term.

Prior to the vote setting the increased tax rate, Commissioners Kelly Snell, Ben Perry and Joe Mashek voted "nay" to reject the proposed budget.

The Waco Tea Party sent an e-mail to all subscribers mounting a plan of protest to the increased tax rate on that basis.

"We want to thank Commissioners Kelly Snell, Ben Perry, and Joe Mashek for voting "NO".

"What this means is that if the county does not approve a budget they can not set a tax rate.  If they change the proposed tax rate we are assuming (meaning we could be wrong) that they would have to hold new public hearings on any newly proposed tax rate."

Commissioners earlier in the month published a proposed $.049 cent tax rate. Under the state law, Judge Lewis explained, they could set a new tax rate at that much, or a lower rate, without having to hold any further hearings.

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