New election legislation opposed by commissioners

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Williamson County commissioners voted to formally oppose legislation that would alter the threshold for a rollback election for counties, municipalities and school districts.

The commissioners declared their opposition to Senate Bill 2 and its companion House Bill 15, which if approved would require automatic rollback elections any time a county or city adopts a budget that raises its effective tax rate by more than four percent. The rollback election threshold at the time is eight percent with a mandatory petition process. The effective tax rate is defined as the rate that would increase the same amount of government revenue in the new year, as was raised the previous year, with up-to-date property values taken into consideration.

According to commissioners, such a bill would hinder the ability for the county to offer certain services. Commissioners noted that the Legislature requires counties to perform certain functions like providing indigent health care and indigent criminal defense without providing funding for those mandates. They said the Legislature could create additional hurdles for the counties and cities to pay for these services without offering financial assistance.

“I would like to say that you, the public, really need to go after representatives on this saying ‘stop,’” Precinct 1 Commissioner Terry Cook said. “Our state government has filed suit against the US. saying ‘you’re messing with me.’ Were saying get out of our backyards, get out of our bedrooms and get out of our doctors offices.”

Judge Dan Gattis made the motion to oppose the legislation. Cook, the only Democrat on the court, seconded the motion.

“That’s got to be pretty powerful,” Gattis said. “We’ve got a Republican and a Democrat moving to do that. Maybe they’ll listen to us.”

Commissioners Cynthia Long and Valerie Covey did not attend this meeting, resulting in a 3-0 vote. The commissioners were in Washington, D.C., working on environmental concerns related to Williamson County.

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