The Ellis County’s Commissioners Court needed Judge Carol Bush’s vote to break the tie for approving the adoption of the 2011-2012 tax rate and the adoption of the tax rate increase to support the 2011-0212 county budget Monday night.

For both action items, Pct 2 Commissioner Bill Dodson made the motion with Pct 3 Commissioner Heath making the second. With Dodson and Sims voting for the approval, Commissioners Dennis Robinson (Pct 1) and Ron Brown (Pct 4) casting the opposing votes.

There was no discussion between the commissioners prior to the vote, however John Taylor spoke to the court in opposition to the increase.

“We are in a deficit recession and it’s not going to get any better before the next election. It’s only going to get worse,” Taylor said during the citizen comment portion of the meeting.

Taylor went on to say, “We as American’s are tired of continued tax increases from all levels of government.”

Taylor also criticized the court for its recent press release of not directly informing the public of the 2-cent increase in the county’s tax rate.

 “The law says how we post notices and release information,” Bush said.

Dissatisfied with Bush’s explanation, Taylor said the country could have done a better job of communicating the increase.

The total tax rate approved will be 0.413599 for all county properties.

“This increase will represent an approximate $20 a year increase for a $100,000 home,” Bush said, describing the impact of the new rate.

The ratification vote approved the 2-cent rate increase that is necessary to fund the Ellis County 2011-2012 fiscal year budget, Bush said. The budget was adopted by commissioner’s court at its Sept 21 meeting. The new tax rate will become effective Oct 1.

In other business, commissioners approved a quarterly payment request by Hope Clinic for the clinic’s quarterly contract amount. The amount approved was for $107,018.

Dr. Mackie Owens gave a presentation of the services provided by the clinic and how the clinic has grown since the county partnered with the clinic in 1999.

“In 2011 we have served 17,775 patients,” Owens said, telling of the clinic’s current caseload. She went on to describe the many health care areas the clinic provides for residents.

One of the concerns expressed by the commissioners was that the clinic did not have a full-time dentist.

“We had one that resigned after being at the clinic for only four months. I’m not going to be in any hurry to hire until we locate one that will stay,” Owens said.

The commissioners also heard a proposal from David Hardaway, sales representative form AT&T, and county purchaser Alisha Wickens, asking the county to change the way cell phone usage is handled. 

The county’s employees having cell phones are currently under individual plans. The proposal before the commissioners calls to change to a “pool plan,” with all of the county-used cell phones being on a time-share pool. Using the pool, Wickens estimated the county would save approximately $1,600 a month.

The commissioners expressed concerns about coverage. Sims asked about some trial phones to try in his area, saying there are a lot of dead spots where there is no cell coverage. 

Chief Deputy Dennis Brearly said his department had the same problem, citing the reason of why cell phones are through AT&T and wireless communications are through Verision.

“Verison is more reliable in some areas,” Brearly said 

The commissioners approved the move pending legal’s review of the contract and agreements.

Prior to attending the agenda items, Sims read a proclamation recognizing the week of Oct. 2 - 8 National 4-H week in Ellis County. Following the approval the commissioners joined Mark Arnold, Page Bishop and several 4-H members in a presentation of the proclamation.

Commissioners also approved a request made by the sheriff department for the purchase of replacement vehicles. Making the request was Brearly, saying the department needed 15 vehicles to replace vehicles that had been taken out of service.

The request passed unanimously.