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A second local taxing entity announced they will follow Smith County’s lead and reduce property taxes.

Smith County Emergency Services District 2 Treasurer Paul Perryman told the Smith County Commissioners Court on Tuesday that ESD2, which maintains many rural fire departments in the county, plans to shave 1.5 cents off their property tax rate.

Perryman said that the move by Smith County was unprecedented and signals to taxpayers that they are listening to constituents. He added that there was talk of one Van Zandt County school district also looking to lower its property tax rate.

“I just want to say to taxpayers, I think this is very encouraging to see at least three local taxing entities for lowering the tax rate, because sometimes it feels like none of your calls or emails have any impact, (but they do),” Perryman said.

The move by ESD 2 would lower the tax rate from 8.5 cents per $100 of taxable value to 7 cents per $100 of taxable value. Perryman noted that the plans are tentative because budgets are not yet finalized, and home valuations do change.

Perryman thanked the commissioners court for having the courage to make a tough financial decision in order to help taxpayers during trying times.

ESD2 operates fire departments in Arp, Bullard, Chapel Hill, Dixie, Flint/Gresham, Jackson Heights, Noonday, Red Springs, Troup, Whitehouse and Winona.

The court also got an update from Traylor & Associates on how record keeping will work for federal CARES Act funding for COVID-19 relief.

Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said the county went with Traylor & Associates because they are local and willing to provide more personal service than a firm that also is serving much larger municipalities.

“We’re here to make sure that whatever you’re spending is certainly eligible for reimbursement, so at the end of the day you haven’t spent $20,000 you’re not going to get back,” Wesley Traylor explained to the commissioners.

Traylor said proper record management, documenting expenses and submitting them for reimbursement will help the county recoup funds being spent on COVID-19 related costs.

Smith County Commissioners Court meetings take place 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays at the Smith County Courthouse Annex, 100 E. Ferguson St.

Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on The Murder Tapes, Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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