Commissioners came close Monday to approving a 10-percent discount for senior citizens or veterans installing culverts on their property, but in the end weren’t sure they had the legal authority to do so.

The issue came up last week at the request of Percy Foreman of Vidor (through Commissioner Owen Burton), who has installed 80 feet of a 100-foot culvert on his property. Foreman has already paid $800. The county charges $10 per foot.

The proposal studied by the court would grant a 10-percent discount to anyone 65 and over, or a veteran of any age who could show proof of discharge. In both cases residents would also be required to show proof they own the property.

In questioning the legality, court advisor Doug Manning compared it to Proposition 13, which “freezes” taxes for senior citizens. He believed a discount that targets a specific group of people can only be passed by the state Legislature. He will report on the matter at next week’s meeting.

Also Monday, the court approved an agreement between the county and KBMG for “direct payment permits” concerning a future pipeline project that will go through about 20 miles of Orange County.
In this fashion, the county is able to collect tax money for material the firm buys, even if it is bought outside the county.

“Even if they purchase the pipe in Austin, the sales tax on that purchase would be paid in Orange County,” Manning said. “So instead of getting ‘all of zero’ we’re getting some of what would have been paid [elsewhere] … It ends up being a win-win situation.”

County Judge Carl Thibodeaux described it as a “mini-tax abatement.”

The 300-mile carbon dioxide transmission pipeline is estimated at about $10.6 million, with the full expense of the project at some $900 million; and could net the county upwards of  $26,000.

The direct payment permit concept is about 25 years old, however, new to Orange County. The concept has been successful in other part of Texas, Manning said.

In other business:

• David Die with the Red Knights Motorcycle Club spoke to commissioners after they issued a proclamation designating May as Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month. Die, an attorney and member of the Texas Motorcycle Safety Coalition, said motorcycle fatalities have outnumbered vehicle deaths in the state for nine consecutive years. “One reason is that gas is high, and motorcycles are more reasonable in gas,” he said. “So we see a lot of drivers who have never been on a bike before and think they can handle an 800- or 900-pound bike when they can’t.” Other reasons he cited were that some drivers unintentionally ignore motorcycles, which can often look farther away than they actually are and aren’t easily detectable in a car’s “blind spots.” Groups like the coalition are exploring ways to educate young drivers about motorcycles and to sponsor billboards reminding car and truck drivers to be careful around motorcycles. More information can be found at

• Nicole Calloway with Adult Protective Services brought attention to abuse of the elderly. Commissioners issued a “Prevention for Elder Abuse” proclamation.