Editor: Shannon Cottongame
June 16, 2022
The Hill County Commissioners Court approved funds to continue offering an increased feral hog bounty and moved forward with the sale of property in a special meeting held Tuesday, June 7.
Extension Agent Zach Davis told the court that the decision to increase the bounty to $10 per tail in March has paid off. “It brought out some more folks and rejuvenated the program,” Davis said.
So far this fiscal year, which continues through September 30, the Bucks for Bacon program has resulted in 1,023 hogs being harvested. During the entire 2020-21 fiscal year, only 987 hogs were harvested.
A breakdown of the data shows that interest in the program has picked up when bounties were higher.
Between October 2014 and September 2017, a total of 4,977 hogs were harvested with the bounty set at $7.50 per tail.
During the approximately four years and three months that the bounty was set at $5 per tail, from November 2017 through February 2022, a total of 4,119 hogs were harvested.
In the two months after the $10 bounty was implemented this year, hunters took a total of 882 hogs. If that trend continues, the county is poised to well exceed the numbers for the program’s most successful year to date, when 2,054 hogs were harvested in Fiscal Year 2016-17.
County Judge Justin Lewis credited the program with reducing both damage to fields and automobile crashes related to hogs. He pointed out that prior to the program’s implementation, the county paid a portion of the salary for a federal trapper. At a cost of $26,000 per year, less than 350 hogs a year were being harvested at that time.
The judge requested a budget amendment to allocate another $10,000 to the program, which will be an addition to the $10,000 previously budgeted, and commissioners voted in favor of the proposal.
Commissioners convened in executive session to discuss the sale and purchase of property. After reconvening in open session, the court voted to allow Lewis to negotiate the sale of the county annex parking lot at 207 East Franklin Street to the City of Hillsboro. Commissioners also gave the judge authority to negotiate the purchase of a portion of 509 North Waco Street.
The court also voted to post notice of the county’s intention to add First Street in Irene to the county’s road maintenance map. A public hearing will be held during the court’s Tuesday, July 12, meeting at 8:30 a.m.
Another public hearing will be held at the same meeting related to the placement of a 30 mile per hour speed limit sign on Live Oak Loop in the Whitney area.
The annual audit of the Emergency Services District (ESD) 2 financial statements was observed and recorded by the court. The district received a clean audit with no material findings.
County Auditor Susan Swilling presented the six-month budget report. Highlights include court fees recovering from last year with regular schedules resuming after the pandemic, and the continued strong sales tax revenue. For the fiscal year, the county has received $1,763,000 in sales tax revenue. At the same time last year, that number was $1,465,000. Throughout the county’s departments, most fuel budgets are exceeding anticipated expenses due to higher fuel prices.
In other action, the court accepted a donation of $250 from Royal Crest Ranch in Precinct 4 to place two road signs that were requested by the property owner, and a three-year contract renewal with Westlaw for online legal research software was approved.
The court discussed progress on the Precinct 1 annex in Huron. Lewis said that flooring work is being planned in the coming days, the water meter has been set and odds and ends are being wrapped up as the building nears completion.
The court’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be Tuesday, June 14, at 8:30 a.m. in the county courtroom of the Hill County Courthouse.