With Brown County Judge Ray West voting "no," county commissioners on Monday approved the issuance of $1.5 million in tax notes to help fund road and building improvements.
No one spoke at a public hearing before commissioners voted even though West asked several times if anyone had any questions or comments before closing the public hearing.
Citizens National Bank will issue the notes, and the county will repay a total of $1.55 million at an interest rate of 1.488 percent over five years.
Citizens National Bank and Regions Bank competed closely for the bids, with Citizens having a slightly higher interest rate, commissioners were told — but Citizens came out ahead with lower fees.
Eric Macha of First Southwest Company told commissioners the closing date will be Aug. 8, and average annual payments will be $324,000. The final payment will be Sept. 1, 2018, Macha told commissioners.
The tax notes will require an increase in the tax rate of 1.5 cents per $100 valuation, Macha said. The increase the annual property tax bill on a $70,000 by $11, County Auditor Nina Cox said.
West said the purpose of the tax notes is to "shore up the sagging infrastructure," mainly roads. Commissioners have said they will decide how much of the proceeds to set aside for building maintenance.
West noted that commissioners had initially considered tax notes of about $10 million, but had decided to "cut it up into a series of tax notes to minimize the hit to taxpayers."
West said later he voted against the tax notes because "I disagreed that the county needs to incur any more debt at this time. It imposes an additional burden on taxpayers. … I do not, however, disagree that our roads need significant work."
When asked what the alternative would be to funding the road projects, West said, "I don't know that there is an alternative. Twenty-twenty is always hindsight, and in a few years I may change my mind. I don't know what they can do with $250,000 per precinct, and that's about what they're going to get."
Also Monday, West presented the Distinguished Service Award to the Brown County Historical Commission on behalf of the state. The award is in recognition of the local group's efforts in "managing preservation programs that educate citizens and (promote) general interest in the history and character of Texas."