Tag Archives: Rockwall County

Rockwall Co. has received second highest amount of Swine Flu vaccines in Dallas area

Rockwall County has received the second highest amount of Swine Flu vaccines to private health-care providers in the Dallas area, according to the Dallas Morning News story. 

Dallas County has the most at 8.3 vaccines per 100 residents, followed by Rockwall Co. at 7.5 and Tarrant Co. at 6.5.

Several factors are considered by Texas health officials when allocating vaccine, including its current scarcity, providers’ requests and the need for geographic balance.

Just last week one doctor in Rockwall said he couldn’t seem to get rid of  all of the Swine Flu vaccines he had received. He still had 75 percent remaining.

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Rockwall County’s population continues to grow

Rockwall County’s population increased by another 1,950 people and 2.5 percent in 2008, according to a new report by the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

The county population increased from an estimated 76,000 at the beginning of 2008 to 77,950 at the beginning of 2009 – an increase of 2.57 percent.

The City of Fate increased by 850 people to 5,650, an increase of 17.71 percent.

The population of Rockwall increased by an estimated 700 people to 32,100, an increase of 2.23 percent.

The population of Royse City increased by 50 people to 10,150, an increase of 0.5 percent.

Can’t find a breakdown of the estimates in Rowlett or McClendon-Chisholm, but after subtracting the three cities from the County total, 350 people either moved into those cities or just into the County.

Rockwall County to ask voters to pass $100 million road bond initiative this November

Rockwall Co. Commissioner Lorie Grinnan

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Rockwall County Commissioners will ask voters to pass a $100 million road bond initiative to reduce traffic congestion this November to upgrade four of the County’s major thoroughfares into modern highways which can accommodate current and future traffic flow, Commissioner Lorie Grinnan explained this morning at the monthly Rockwall County Republican Men’s Club breakfast.

This 2008 bond initiative follows the $17 million road bond package which 75 percent of voters approved in 2004 to construct I-30 interchanges at FM 205, FM 549, FM 551, Hickory Hill and FM 740.

According to Grinnan, the additional bond package is needed now because previous County leaders could not foresee how quickly the County would grow, did not anticipate how serious traffic congestion would become and, therefore, did not upgrade enough roads fast enough.

Most of the County roads were built 50 years ago to haul crops, not to carry thousands of cars and trucks, she said.

The $100 million will be leveraged into approximately $310.3 million in roadway improvements, but the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) and the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) require that local involvement must be shown in order to qualify for the funds when they become available, in competition with Dallas, Collin, Tarrant and Denton Counties.

The Commissioner explained that the “worst-case scenario” cost to taxpayers and business owners should not exceed three cents per $100 valuation over the next ten years, based “on a conservatively projected six percent growth rate (lowered to two percent after ten years), after all the debt is issued.”

She said that means that the owner for a home valued at $190,000 would pay less than $4.75 per month, “about the cost of one no-frills cup of coffee.”

Her entire Powerpoint presentation is available to see by clicking on “2008 Road Bond Initiative” on Rockwall County’s website homepage.

State Highways 66 and 276, plus Farm-to-Market roads 549 and 740 are the major roadways targeted for improvements.

Improvements will widen SH66 into a six-lane divided highway for 11.5 miles from SH205 through Fate to FM1777 in Royse City. The bond funding request will be $30 million.

SH 276 will be widened to a six-lane divided highway for 9.2 miles from SH 205 to the Hunt Co. line, at a cost of $28 million.

FM549 will be widened into a six-lane divided highway for 12.5 miles from FM 740 in Heath to FM552 near the Collin Co. line at a cost of $30 million.

FM 740 will be widened to a four-lane divided highway for four miles from FM 549 in Heath to FM3097 (Horizon Rd.) at a cost of $5 million.

Comments from the crowd of nearly 100 seemed generally positive towards passing the bond initiative. Rockwall Community Playhouse president Gary Freedman said doing so would finally be a proactive step in the right direction rather than reactive, as has been the case too often lately. Former Rockwall government leader Dale Morgan said that many of the former leaders just didn’t realize the necessity of better roads because they were farmers whose only real care was getting their crops transported.

The one major concern asked by a member of the audience was whether business and industry would be paying their fair share, rather than assessing the burden of financing on homeowners. Commissioner Grinnan responded that businesses and homewowners would all pay their fair share if the bond initiative passes.

Rockwall County property value rates slow down

Rockwall County property values increased by 7.6 percent this year, compared to 10.9 percent last year, the smallest increase in more than a decade for one of the nation’s fastest growing counties.

The more modest increase reflects the growth slowdown across the County.

The Rockwall Central Appraisal District released certified appraisals July 31 which show continued growth across the county to $6.7 billion in taxable value, an increase of $475,157,728.

New construction represented about three-quarters of that growth.

The City of Fate, with a population of 4,800, led the county with a 15.2 percent increase in property values – largely from new construction. The city of Rockwall was up 8.1 percent, and Rockwall ISD up 10.5 percent. The City of Heath’s value grew by 6.4 percent.

Rockwall County auditor John Blackwood said the appraisals came in strong enough to support the county’s preliminary budget for next year.

Consequently, cities and school districts can prepare more detailed budgets for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

The slower growth in property values had been expected. According to the North Central Texas Council of Governments, double-digit valuation growth in recent years was the result of a home construction boom that caused the county’s population to increase nearly 70 percent, to 73,500, between 2000 and 2007.

The boom has slowed, however, to only 3.4 percent population growth last year.

Despite the slower 7.6 percent growth in taxable value, Rockwall still outpaced neighboring Collin and Dallas counties, which reported certified appraisals last month of 4.3 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively.

Rockwall County’s tax rate likely to increase slightly

Rockwall County’s tax rate is likely to increase very slightly this year to begin making debt payments for the new $11.5 million library, which voters approved in 2004.

Last year county commissioners cut the tax rate from 35.07 to 35 cents per $100 valuation, but this year the County must also begin paying off debt on the planned $30 million justice center, though that will have less impact for now on the tax rate.

Although the county expects to receive $1.6 to $1.9 million in new tax revenue in 2009, commissioners must still pay for rising costs and salaries – especially for library operations. The bonds don’t pay for library salaries and other expenses, and those could add $1 million to the $21 million general budget.

County Judge Chris Florance is scheduled to propose the first budget draft July 31. Then commissioners will make revisions, hold two public hearings and vote for the final budget on Sept. 9.