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By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

County sets tax rate for new budget year


Last updated 9/12/2023 at 8:16pm

Orange County Commissioners Court approved a lower property tax rate compared to last year, but because of an overall increase in property values, taxpayers may be paying an average of 17 percent more in their county property taxes.

The court Tuesday approved the tax rate, along with a budget of $59 million. The budget is for the 2023-24 fiscal year, which starts on October 1. The tax rate will go with the new budget, though the due date for property taxes to be paid is the end of January.

The new tax rate will be 52.2 cents per $100 valuation, compared to the current 53.2 cents per $100 valuation.

The new tax rate will bring in about $6.12 million more in property tax income, with $347,600 of that from newly-added property developments.

County Judge John Gothia said commissioners set the tax rate, but have nothing to do with the values of the property. The separate Orange County Tax Appraisal District sets the valuations based on market figures and other values. That taxing system is set up by state law.

Sheriff Jimmy Lane Mooney thanked Commissioners Court for quickly ratifying a new contract with the deputies union.

County Judge John Gothia said the court agreed to pay the deputies $1.50 more in pay, so all other county employees will be getting the same amount.

The new budget will include a large purchase Gradall piece of heavy equipment that will cost $500,000. Gothia said a couple of years ago, a new Gradall was $350,000.

And the county will be needing that big piece of road and ditch machinery. County Engineer Corey Oldbury reported the three Gradalls the county now owns are currently broken.

Gothia also pointed out that more than $6 million of the budget is spent to operate the Orange County Jail. The costs include personnel, feeding the inmates and providing their prescription medications. The county buys the medicines annually through a bidding process.

He said the regular sheriff's office operations, including patrol, detectives, and office staff, are the next largest part of the county's budget.

The office of the Orange County Tax Assessor-Collector reported that 96.78 percent of the 2022-23 taxes have been paid. It is about the same percentage paid at the same time last year. This past month, the office had back taxes payments of about $2.3 million, with about $245,600 of that for the county. The office also collects property taxes for cities, school districts, and special districts.

The court also approved spending $128,400 for the new walking track at Raymond Gould Community Center in Vidor. The track will be paid for in three payments.

Earlier this year, the court voted to spend money on a park in each of the county's four precincts. The money is coming from fees paid by Chevron Phillips for building permits at the new petrochemical plant.

Last week, Precinct 1 Commissioner Johnny Trahan announced the new kayak-canoe launch at Blue Bird Park along Little Cypress Bayou had been completed. It is one of the projects at the park off Simmons Drive in Orange.

Engineer Oldbury reported the East Roundbunch Swing Bridge across Cow Bayou had been opened and closed 65 times in August. In recent years, the swing bridge, which was installed used in 1960, has had mechanical problems leading to it having to be left open for long periods. When it is opened, a key travel road to the Chemical Row industrial plants is closed to land vehicles.


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