Renovated courthouse to open in August

Harris County Tax Rate: Shockingly, No Increase In An Election Year

Harris County's mid-year budget review is out, and it recommends no change in the tax rate from what it has been since 2007.

There will be a little juggling involved: the tax rates for the port and the flood control and hospital district will go up, while the county's will go down. But the bottom line in the report by budget director Rick Dick Raycraft is that the overall county rate will remain the same.

Side note: County Judge Ed Emmett is running for re-election this year.

The county has been able to avoid or delay deeper cost cuts that have occurred in other urban communities in the country," the report says. "Instead, the county has relied on reductions through attrition, limits on discretionary spending, and other steps to get closer to break-even."

Other bits of news:

-- The refurbished 1901 courthouse, which will house the 1st and 14th Courts of Appeal, is expected to formally open in August, although it will be ready for occupation before that.

-- The new jury-assembly set-up will be ready in spring of 2011, and the county hopes judges will consider staggered dockets to relieve morning crowds and hassles.

-- The Sheriff's Office plans to "make greater use of contracted inmate beds in Louisiana rather than Texas because of lower costs."

Commissioners Court will review the proposals at its Tuesday meeting.

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