County turns down ‘mandatory donation’ to CAC

August 21, 2013

Citing possible unfairness to taxpayers and other worthy agencies in need of funding, the Hood County Commissioners Court has refused to allow fees to be tacked onto vehicle registrations on behalf of the Paluxy River Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC).

The mandatory fees would have raised money for the center, which works to reduce trauma to child abuse victims.

Sheriff Roger Deeds, a CAC board member, told commissioners at their regular meeting last week that, even though the Paluxy CAC serves other counties, Hood County makes up the “vast majority” of its cases.

“The caseload keeps going up,” he said.

The center is located in Hood County.

The Texas Transportation Code allows for the collection of “child safety fees” to benefit Children’s Advocacy Centers throughout the state, according to Tax Assessor-Collector Teresa McCoy.

Commissioners Courts determine whether the fees will be tacked onto vehicle registration fees collected in individual counties. The courts also determine the fee itself, which can range from 50 cents up to $1.50.

Though the important role of the CAC in protecting the welfare of children was noted in the discussion at Commissioners Court, concern was expressed over the added burden to the County Treasurer’s office, which would have to track the fees separately.

Also worrisome for the elected officials was unfairness to other worthy agencies and forcing local taxpayers to pay more for their vehicle registrations.

It was noted that the CAC, along with other agencies, is already receiving money from the county. Citizens can request that the modest pay they receive for jury duty be given to the CAC.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Jeff Tout said the “child safety fee” seems like “a mandatory donation.”

“That’s the problem I have with it,” he said. “We’re taking away the taxpayer’s right to say where they want their money to go.”

Commissioners were unable to table the item to allow for further research due to a looming deadline imposed by the state.

McCoy said she was approached last year about the possible fee collection by a representative of the CAC, but the deadline had already passed. She said she was recently contacted again, and she referred the CAC representative to the county judge’s office so that the matter could be placed on the Commissioners Court agenda for consideration.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Steve Berry made a motion to deny the request.

It was seconded by James Deaver of Precinct 1. The vote was unanimous to deny the request.

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