- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—RUSK — Cherokee County Commissioners on Monday voted 3 to 2 in opposition of a proposed fee designed to benefit the county’s child and family services program, currently funded through the general fund budget.

“I’m not against those organizations (the fee would benefit) — I think they’re excellent organizations, but as long as we continue to utilize the government for every single thing and tax people, we’re not going going to get the same outcome as if you had faith in the program (by supporting it outright),” said Pct. 2 Commissioner Steven Norton. “I have faith in local people, who would see what great programs these are, and I think if we put this in the hands of churches, of local people, I think we would see a lot bigger blessing.”

The court tabled the item earlier this month, after agreeing to get more information before making a final decision.

Programs through child and family services operate on a budget of approximately $18,000 that is taken from the county’s general fund, explained County Judge Chris Davis.

However, like a road and bridge fee the court votes on annually, the State Legislature has in place a program that would assess a $1 fee on vehicle registration that would go toward a county’s child and family services program, he said.

“This fee was already set up in the system — all we had to decide was the amount (assessed),” Davis said. “Every year, we fill out what our fees will be, but we’ve never utilized the one for child safety.”

Both he and Pct. 1 Commissioner Kelly Traylor supported the proposed fee, while Norton and fellow commissioners Katherine Pinotti (Pct. 3) and Byron Underwood, Pct. 4, cast dissenting votes.

“I’m very disturbed about that (vote),” Davis said. “We give the board $18,000 out of the general fund, and have done that for years, but the number of kids in foster care are going up. For whatever reason … they’re taken out of homes by the courts, a lot of times with only the clothes on their backs.

“We’re talking about kids who don’t have anything,” he added.

Had commissioners implemented the fee, Davis estimated it would generate an estimated $30,000 to help these programs.

“My contention, I guess, is that I look at things in a simpler way … people say volunteers should give money, that’s true, but it doesn’t always work,” he said.

Norton, a former foster parent himself, reiterated the good done by these programs but said he felt the court should “not command for everyone to pay for it if they don’t believe in it.

“I was voted in to be a good steward of taxpayers’ money, and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.

In other action, the court:

—Approved a list of election judges and alternate judges for the upcoming November constitutional amendment election;

—Approved a lease for Cherokee County Airport Hanger #23 between RidgeAire and Charles and Lisa Crossman; and

—Approved a lease agreement between the county and Texan Aero.

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(c)2015 the Jacksonville Daily Progress (Jacksonville, Texas)

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