Commissioners adopt tax rate, discuss moldy jail

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With just one dissenting vote, the Austin County Commissioners Court voted Monday to approve a tax rate of $0.5479 per $100 assessed valuation.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Rinn voted against the motion, stating that he wanted instead to implement the effective rate of $0.51835 per $100 assessed valuation.

“We’ve had the public come out and speak,” Rinn said. “I don’t see why Precinct 1 and Precinct 2 constituents should be paying more taxes when their budgets are getting cut. I’m not in favor of this.”

The proposal includes a $0.3843 rate for general maintenance, a $0.0672 rate for special road and bridge tax, $0.0811 for farm-to-market lateral roads tax and $0.0153 for debt service tax, totaling the approved rate of $0.5479.

In other matters this week, commissioners heard from Sheriff Jack Brandes on a proposal to remove mold from the Austin County Jail. Kenny Burns of Burns Engineering presented to commissioners during a special session Tuesday.

Inmates have been transported to Fort Bend County since August at a cost of about $55 per head per day. The number of inmates fluctuates daily, Brandes said.

Jailers have been working out of a temporary trailer in Bellville, doing intake, booking and photographs before transporting prisoners out of town.

“We have to move forward,” Brandes said. “No more patching. I have to protect taxpayer dollars. Whatever we spend, it has to be done right. I’m not going to go back to the taxpayers and say we didn’t do this right. I’m not going to hide anything from people and I will inform people on every step.”

The jail was constructed in the early 1980s and “years and years” of leaks have contributed to the mold problem, Brandes said in an August interview with The Sealy News. The problem was inherited from previous administrations, and the current group of elected officials has been working diligently toward remediating the issues, Brandes has said.

Stay tuned to sealynews.com and The Sealy News Facebook page for the latest developments from Austin County Commissioners Court. 

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