HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- After blocking a vote to bring in millions in new tax revenue, one Harris County commissioner defended his decision and explained why he should still receive his paycheck.
Tuesday was the deadline to increase the tax rate. If passed, $250 million in additional funds would've come into the county to hire more cadets, expand flood mitigation projects, and create new medical suites.
It wasn't passed because two seats in the commissioner's court were empty. They've been empty for weeks.
Since the two Republican didn't show up to the commissioner's court, a vote couldn't take place. On Wednesday, we talked to Commissioner Tom Ramsey about his decision.
"I didn't show up because there was never an option other than the quarter of a billion-dollar tax revenue increase," Ramsey said.
County agencies said they would've used the extra money to build new medical offices, new cadets, and expand flood mitigation services. Judge Lina Hidalgo doesn't understand the tactic.
"I'm very disappointed because, frankly, I thought that they were putting on a show," Hidalgo said. "They wanted to put on a show to show folks that they could disagree with me on something."
After Republicans proposed a tax rate plan, there was a meeting to talk about it, but it was labeled as a discussion with possible action.
"He knows," Hidalgo said. "The county attorney explained. All of us know that in that meeting, we couldn't vote to support or reject tax rates. That's not what was on the table."
"That is what they say," Ramsey explained. "I don't agree with it. I'm the one that has to trust them in that meeting. It was very simple. Just put discussion online."
Hidalgo said by not appearing in court, Republicans cut millions of dollars. This means the tax rate remains the same.
Services are still taking place, but new personnel, projects, and proposals are on hold. Since he missed court meetings for more than a month, ABC13 asked Ramsey if he would return his county paycheck.
"My job is not defined by that," Ramsey said. "My job is doing things out in my precinct. I go to court. That's just one of many, many things I do."
The other absent Republican Commissioner, Jack Cagle, declined to give Eyewitness News a statement or interview for the past two days. Ramsey said his seat won't be empty at the next meeting.
He hopes the court can move forward. But it'll do so by looking at a budget that can no longer receive increased tax revenue.
- Millions in funds for extra projects now paused after 2 Harris County commissioners skipped meetings