If You Are a Commissioner Running for Reelection … What Do You Do?!

By Gloria Way

There are numerous humorous adages being whispered around Chambers County referring to “if you want anything done in your precinct or the county, wait until it’s an election year”! Well, it certainly is true this 2024 election cycle.
Two Chambers County commissioners are up for reelection this year. Tommy Hammond, Commissioners Pct. 3 is a first term commissioner seeking his second term. At Commissioners Court this past Tuesday, January 9th, under the financial category of the agenda, item #2.1 read: Discuss and Consider increasing the homestead exemption to persons over 65 or disabled from $200,000 to$250,000.” In presenting the item for discussion, County Judge Jimmy Sylvia stated that Commissioner Hammond had asked to place this on the agenda. Hammond chimed in saying that he talked to the County Auditor, and it was determined that increasing the exemption would result in a loss of $864,000 in tax revenue, but, the $864,000 loss would be “made up in other ways”. So, we applaud Commissioners Court for increasing the homestead exemption for senior citizens while questioning how the almost million-dollar loss would be returned. The logical tool to makeup for the loss is the continuing increase in residential appraisal values. Whether or not Hammond has been considering for any length of time to lower the tax exemption, he has had three years to bring it before Court. Whatever the reason, I believe we can all thank Hammond’s opponent in the GOP Primary, Buck Leavins, Jr.!
Jimmy Gore, Commissioner Pct, is seeking his third term as commissioner. He has eight years under his belt and eight years of dealing with the constituents in his precinct. A huge issue in parts of Pct. 1, other than drainage, roads, and overall property taxes, is upkeep and upgrades of the parks. Parks are for everyone’s enjoyment. We, as a county, should be proud of our parks because parks are paid for from everyone’s taxes. Community leaders in Pct. 1 have advocated for years for certain improvements in certain parks. Some improvements have been made piecemeal over the years but it takes an election year to get the big projects started. And, when the projects do begin, and you have an opponent, you put huge signs up in the park thanking yourself and Chambers County for the improvements and upgrades.
Being a Commissioner or a County Judge, the job is for every day of every year not just the election cycle. It is much appreciated that our senior citizens will be paying less in property taxes on their homestead. It is much appreciated that our residents will have new playground equipment and other amenities in its parks.
I cannot help but think how easy it was to pass the increase to the homestead exemption for seniors at a almost one million dollar loss … when constituents ask for improvements to parks, ditches, roads, libraries in their precincts and told there is no money, I guess you have to wait until it is an election year, and then “poof”, a million dollar loss is no big deal, it will be easy to make up for the loss. Thank you again, Buck Leavins, Jr., and Rachal Hisler. You both have already made things happen!

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