By Bill Spinks

Like other governmental entities in Ellis County and elsewhere in the state, the Ellis County Commissioners’ Court will hold a public hearing on the proposed tax rate and budget for fiscal year 2020-2021, and is expected to vote to approve both during the court’s regular bi-weekly meeting on Tuesday.

The county has proposed a total tax rate of 35.2128 cents per $100 of taxable valuation. This new rate is a decrease from last year’s rate of 36.0533 cents.

"Despite this year being one of uncertainty, we have seen positive growth and development all across our county. This means more incoming jobs and more security for our residents," said Ellis County Judge Todd Little in a statement provided to the Daily Light on Thursday.

Of this amount, the maintenance and operations rate will be 30.1415 cents, the interest and sinking rate will be 1.9531 cents and the Farm to Market tax rate will be 3.1182 cents.

"We are currently navigating through new waters," Little said. "The effects of COVID-19 have impacted the budget process resulting in proposing a tax rate without certified values until Sept. 5. As a local government, we are looking ahead and setting a conservative ceiling for a tax rate that is already at a reduced rate from last year. We are working to reduce the burdens on our citizens, and will continue to work swiftly to provide high quality government services while keeping Ellis County affordable and a great place to call home."

In administrative matters on Tuesday, the court will hear a presentation from Midlothian Economic Development on the Earth Root Holdings project; consider a presidential executive order on the deferment of FICA withholding; and consider cybersecurity training through the Texas Association of Counties.

The court will consider advertising and soliciting bids for printed forms, wholesale gas and diesel, and convenience store fuel. Commissioners will also consider a three-tiered bid award for miscellaneous concrete work to J.C. Concrete, J&K Excavation and Don Smith Concrete.

Three items are on the development agenda: a plat of a 2.4-acre property on the south side of FM 2377, a plat of an approximately 8.5-acre parcel on the northwest side of Newton Road; and a performance bond acceptance for the 40.7-acre Bella Vista Subdivision on the north side of FM 875 and about 1,600 feet west of Skinner Road in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the city of Midlothian.

On the consent agenda are acceptance of annual audits for eight emergency service districts in the county; a $7,425 payment to Dr. Leigh Nordstrom for 49.5 hours of work related to COVID-19 pandemic response; renewal of a contract with FPSI (Fire and Police Selection Inc.) for entry-level Deputy Sheriff employment exams; an amendment to a contract for software services with Swagit Productions LLC; and numerous budgetary line-item adjustments.

Dale Cheek, who is retiring from the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office after 20 years, will also be recognized at Tuesday’s meeting.

The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. inside the Ellis County Historic Courthouse’s Commissioners Courtroom on the second floor. Visitors will be asked to keep at least six feet apart from other members of the public and Ellis County staff.