County will keep same exemptions on taxes
Last updated 3/28/2023 at 8:54pm
Orange County Commissioners unanimously voted to keep the same property tax homestead exemption at 20 percent for the upcoming tax year. Senior citizens will continue to get an additional $25,000 exemption on their homes.
Tax Assessor-Collector Karen Fisher asked the commissioners to set the rates for 2023-24 so she can begin income calculations as the time comes for estimates for a new county budget.
The county has long had those exemptions, with the 20 percent homestead exemption the maximum the state has allowed.
In other business, Chris Robbins, chief financial officer with Jefferson Energy, told commissioners his company has now paid $32.3 million in tax payments to the county since a tax abatement agreement in 2013.
The company built a $200 million refinery on the Orange County east bank of the Neches River and has expanded since the beginning 10 years ago. The company has 238 full time employees and 1,400 contract workers.
Jefferson refinery has a dock, tank yard, and is on three pipelines.
The company in the past has presented commissioners court with a large ceremonial check for their taxes, but Robbins said the taxes were due at the end of January and they paid then.
Industry was another subject as the court agreed to hire KMY Consulting to help with the administration of the $200,000 grant given by Chevron Phillips Golden Triangle Polymers plant for the Local First Program.
The Local First Program is to recruit and help find local and regional workers and suppliers for the construction of the new $8.5 billion chemical plant off Highway 87 South between Orange and Bridge City. County Judge John Gothia said the county will pay the consultants $6,000 a month. However, the printing of materials and other advertising costs will be paid by the county.
County Economic Development Director Megan Layne asked for an amendment to the tax abatement agreement with Optimus Steel. She said the company asked for the starting date to be made clear and moved it back to 2024.
Lisa McCraig with the Texas Association of Counties Risk Management told the court the county's insurance could increase this year because of the increasing costs of materials to rebuild and rising property values. She said the county's insured properties value increased to $109 million from $96 million. Actuaries will be calculating the new rates and the county should know how much the insurance on buildings will go up by May 1.
Commissioners approved a number of purchases for county departments, including $35,599 for a 2022 Ford F150 pickup truck for mosquito control from Silsbee Ford. Also, a $40,919 for a 2022 Chevrolet Traverse from Lake Country Chevrolet to be used by emergency management.
The county is also reimbursing the Mauriceville Municipal Utility $46,800 for extending waste water lines to Kinard Estates off FM 1130. The money is coming from federal ARPA, the American Rescue Plan grants.
Another payment was $39,266 from ARPA for updating the camera system at the Orange County Convention and Expo Center.