The Orange County Commissioners Court will soon have a set permit fee for industry looking to build in the county.

The court decided Monday that research should be done into seeing what other counties set as permit fees in their permitting guidelines to give a clearer picture of what the county should do in the future.

DuPont Sabine River Works is moving forward with a new maintenance structure, and was petitioning the court to waive a $40,000 permit fee, but County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said no dice.

“If we waive a permit fee for DuPont, then Chevron or Firestone or any other plant would expect their fees waived as well,” Thibodeaux said. “We want to be fair and direct. But, I do think that $40,000 is too high.”

Bobby Fillyaw, executive director of economic development, said that he can look into what other counties set as permit fees and get back with the court by their next regular meeting.
Bob Laughlin, Sabine River Works site manager, said that DuPont does not mind paying a permit fee, but would like it to be more reasonable.

“We’re going forward with the project, as we are needing to relocate 200 or so employees,” Laughlin said.

In other business, tax assessor-collector Lynda Gunstream submitted the 2011 certified property tax values. The total taxable value for county is $4,934,827,134 and the total taxable value for farm to market is $4,646,387,556. The effective tax rate is .51487 for 2011 under property tax code.

The court also voted unanimously to make fishing and recreation along Bailey Road safer by lowering the speed limit to 30 mph.

In budget workshops this past week, the court heard from several departments about their needs and expenditures and looked at ways that they could trim the $5,039,257 capital outlay.
The sheriff’s department is asking for nine new vehicles under the budget for next year along with other requests, bringing their request to $319,781. Five V8 vehicles are needed for patrol, three V6, unmarked vehicles for the narcotics division and one staff vehicle. Commissioners said that they can tentatively approve that, but if budget crunches come down, they will need to cut two of the V6 vehicles.

“Would the department be able to function with seven vehicles?” John Dubose, commissioner for precinct III, asked Sheriff Keith Merritt.

“We will continue to do our job regardless,” Merritt said.

The price of V6 vehicles is $31,422 each.

When asked if more seizure vehicles could be used, Merritt said that they could look into that, but that a seizure vehicle must be utilized for two years.

“It is against the law for us to just seize a vehicle for revenue,” he said.

The Orange County Airport was requesting $139,696 for new needs including new office furniture, a Ford Fusion vehicle, a RAMP grant worth $100,000 and new flag poles. The court said that they can tentatively approve this, but will leave out the vehicle, trimming $18,000 from their budget.

The county tentatively cut Road and Bridge’s $405,000 budget by $65,000, taking out one side cutter, which will leave them with one instead of the two originally requested.