Robertson County considering raising tax rate to pay for new jail

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FRANKLIN, Tex. (KBTX) - If you live in Robertson County you could see the tax rate going up soon.

County Judge Charles Ellison is concerned they'll need the money for the new jail being built. Other sources of income aren't what they used to be, according to Ellison.

The county recently broke ground on a new jail. It's expected to cost around $20 million. Their old jail hasn't met state standards for years. This new one will come with new costs.

Darrell Edwards has lived in Franklin most of his life and doesn't like the idea of paying more in taxes.

"Like mostly against tax rates from my house. We also have heir property here in town that, it'll increase the tax rates on that also. So that's, I mean you know increase is to pay more taxes so I' m not for it," he said.

"We had enough saved up to do almost half the jail that was the reserve. We have saved up and then we have had to borrow the rest of it and over I think a 25 year period and it'll cause the tax to go up probably from two to six cents," explained Judge Ellison.

"You've got to have the people to run this thing and it takes five or six extra people to run this jail versus the other jail, but we didn't have any choice. The State of Texas said you build it," he said.

Ellison said sources of income from things like oil, gas, and power plants have dropped.

"Oh, it's been way down. From seven or eight years ago it's down probably over half," he said.

They won't have new numbers on that revenue for a few more weeks. Last year the judge told KBTX he didn't expect the tax rate would rise. But that has changed.

"Hopefully, our ad valorem base will be a little better this year than it was last year and that means that we'd have to go, we wouldn't have to go up so much on taxes. Hopefully not any at all but I'm sure there'll be some," he said.

"I’m one of them. I don't like my taxes either so they're people here they’re real understanding people if you explain to them what you’re doing and why you have to do it," said Ellison.

Edwards thinks the tax hike would come at a tough time as his community rebuilds from the tornado. Back in April the southern half of town had a direct hit. Fortunately, no one was killed. Rebuilding is taking time.

"Some people are buying double-wide homes and some people are rebuilding the houses. So that's going to be you put in a tax increase and house payments and that could hurt them a little bit," said Edwards.

Judge Ellison said in recent years before he arrived, the county lowered their rate but has slowly had to raise it again.

The county will host hearings later this summer to look at the tax rate.

The new jail being built is expected to meet the county's needs for 40 years.