Commissioners discuss fee hike for state project

Published on Tuesday, 16 July 2013 22:42 - Written by By ADAM RUSSELL

Smith County commissioners discussed a proposed fee increase, a $275,000 payment to the state for right-of-way purchases for a state highway project and approved a tax abatement to lure business expansion during their Tuesday meeting.

County Clerk Karen Phillips informed the court she was proposing a $10 fee increase for plat filings in her office. Last year the fee increased to $31 from $21.

Mrs. Phillips said raising the fee to $41 would bring it closer to plat filing fees in other similar sized counties, which she said average $150.

A public hearing regarding the proposed fee increase for plat filings has been set for 9:30 a.m. Aug. 20 in the County Courthouse Annex Building, 200 E. Ferguson St. in Tyler.

County Judge Joel Baker said the Texas Department of Transportation contacted the county regarding the county’s 10 percent obligation for right-of-way acquisition needed to complete an overpass project at U.S. Highway 69 and Farm-to-Market Road 346 near Flint similar to the overpass that spans FM 344 in Bullard. The county’s portion is expected to be about $275,000, Baker said.

Baker said he was aware TxDOT might request the money during the fiscal year 2014 budget. The project is expected to go out for bid in 2017, he said, which means TxDOT plans to begin right-of-way acquisitions soon.

The court also approved 100 percent tax abatement for VME Fabricators Inc., which builds oil and gas exploration equipment, through 2018. The three-phase abatement is contingent upon creation of 96 new jobs and $3.6 million in new capital investment by 2018.

The company employs 31. The Tyler Economic Development Council estimated Smith County would forgo almost $40,000 in taxes over the abatement duration. The city council approved a similar abatement for the company last week.