Rusk County employees could see a pay increase in the near future.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Bill Hale said employees have not received a raise in four years, and the county now is looking at a possible 4 percent raise as it goes through the budget process.

“You start losing morale,” he said. “Luckily, our county employees have understood it, but it’s time now to try to give that raise.”

While the county is trying to give a raise to about 200 employees, it also is looking at other potential budget items and the tax rate.

As far as the tax rate, which is currently 44.8 cents per $100 of property valuation, it may have to move up to the effective rate, Hale said. The effective rate — the rate needed to maintain current revenues — is 45.7 cents per $100 of property valuation.

Hale said a final budget and tax rate are still in the works.

“We’re really just trying to hold the line…” he said. “We just continue to make decisions on some of the requests that have been made.”

“We will continue to look at requests and decide whether we can meet them or not. We just do what we have to do while trying to hold the tax rate down as much as we can,” he added.

 Hale said Rusk County right now is slated to get more highway patrol officers.

Last month, area leaders and community members attended a traffic fatality summit, which was prompted by the recent number of fatalities in the county.

During the summit, attendees gathered on the third floor of the Rusk County Justice Center, where they heard from representatives with groups, such as the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Department of Public Safety and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They also had the opportunity to ask questions and pick up literature.

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