A new fee will be imposed on those registering their vehicle in Cooke County next year.
Effective Jan. 1, 2020, residents will pay an additional $1 in county fees when registering their vehicle after members of the Cooke County Commissioners’ Court agreed Monday, Aug. 12, to add a fee for child safety via a 3-2 vote.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Leon Klement and Precinct 3 Commissioner John Klement voted against.
According to information provided to county commissioners, the revenue must be used for school crossing guard services. However, Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley said the county really doesn’t “have that system set up.”
Remaining funds have to be used for programs to enhance child safety, health or nutrition, including child abuse intervention and prevention and drug and alcohol abuse prevention, according to the information given to commissioners.
“CASA [Court Appointed Special Advocates of North Texas] and the Child Advocacy Center [of Cooke County] may be qualified on that,” Brinkley said.
The county can impose a road and bridge fee of up to $10 and a child safety fee not to exceed $1.50, according to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Historically we’ve done the road and bridge fee, the other one is the $1.50 for child safety, I know we have talked about doing it before but haven’t done it,” Brinkley said before the vote.
Cooke County Tax Assessor-Collector Brandy Carr said there are about 56,000 vehicles registered in the county.
Registrations of passenger vehicles and trucks weighing 6,000 pounds or less cost $50.75 plus applicable fees and county fees, Carr said. Those fees include $10 for a county road and bridge fee, a $1 Texas Department of Public Safety Fee, a $4.75 processing and handling fee and a $7.50 inspection fee depending on the type of inspection. Total vehicle registration costs $74.
Fees vary for trailers, travel trailers and bigger vehicles with larger gross weights, according to Carr.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Gary Hollowell said the county currently funds CASA through property taxes.
The county allocates $50,000 a year to CASA, Brinkley said in a follow-up interview with the Register.
The monies garnered from the child safety fee “will likely be used in substitution for those funds,” he said.
Brinkley said the property tax revenues that currently go to CASA could instead go into the general fund.
“However, we have not passed a final tax rate yet, so the revenue numbers are not finalized,” he said.
During a specially called meeting in the Cooke County Courthouse on Friday, July 26, all five members of the court unanimously decided that the proposed tax rate for 2020 would be the effective rate of 43 cents per $100 assessed property value, according to a previous report in the Register.
The effective rate is the tax rate needed to bring in the same tax revenue as the previous year.
Commissioners can vote to set the tax rate lower than the proposed rate but not higher. They are scheduled to vote on a final tax rate and budget during their meeting Monday, Aug. 26.
Leon Klement said he wanted to make no change to vehicle registration fees.
“It’s the same group of people paying the same money,” Leon Klement said. “You’re going to stack on a fee on something else and then tell everybody look what we did, we lowered property taxes.”
He made a motion to leave the fees as is and John Klement seconded. The motioned failed with Brinkley, Hollowell and Precinct 2 Commissioner Jason Snuggs opposing.