Burns seeks fourth term as commissioner

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, September 11, 2013

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Kevin Burns announced Tuesday that he will seek a fourth term as Precinct 2 county commissioner in the March Republican primary.

“There’s just lots of unfinished business,” Burns told the Messenger.

Kevin Burns

If elected to another term, he plans to continue improving roads in his precinct, be involved in outlining plans to address water issues throughout the state and make sure the tax levy remains low while maintaining quality services for citizens.

Burns said he started with 260 miles of roads in Precinct 2 with no seal coat, and now he has only 50 miles left.

“We’d really like to get that paved,” he said. “It’s a big deal to my constituents. I may be able to get most of them done before the general election, but I’d like to see that through.”

Burns, who is past chair of the National Watershed Coalition, also has concerns about local and statewide water issues and hopes to play a role in managing those interests.

“I’d like to be a part of that and protect our interests in that matter as it unfolds,” he said. “They’re addressing it in the legislature, and I want to make sure Wise County is served well statewide.

In his work on the watershed coalition, the group has helped train National Resource Conservation Service employees in maintenance and operation of watershed dams, and they have educated legislators on the importance of maintaining funding for the coalition and keeping it in the Farm Bill. They also oversee the care of watersheds across the country.

“I also want to make sure our tax levy is as low as possible and make sure we still have adequate fire protection and Emergency Medical Services and that all authorized offices are run as efficiently as possible,” he said.

Burns said the tax rate has dropped dramatically since he first took office, but he doesn’t take personal credit for the plunge.

“It’s gone from 80 cents to below 40 cents … That’s due to the growth rate in the county and increase in appraised value and minerals,” he said. “All we do is adjust it so the average tax bill hasn’t increased dramatically.

“I can’t take a lot of credit, but I’m proud we’re able to do that,” he said.

Burns was also instrumental in bringing a permanent Weatherford College campus to Wise County. Most recently, he played a role in the passage of House Bill 2474, authored by Rep. Phil King, which makes it less costly for counties to work with college districts to build facilities in the future by helping ensure that they can get the best interest rates on their bonds.

It will allow Wise County to refinance their bonds in the future.

“We’ve made it more affordable for us and other counties to provide secondary education,” he said.

As Burns looks ahead to possibility of another term, he said the job of county commissioner is one of the most frustrating but rewarding jobs he’s ever had.

“It’s the most frustrating job I’ve ever had because I can see what needs to be done, and I can see that we’re limited because of the permissive style of government in Texas,” he said. “We can only do what the legislature allows us to do.

“But it’s rewarding when you can help someone cut through some red tape or a roadblock that either the federal or state level or local level of government has in place that has kept them from enjoying the use of their property,” he said. “It’s rewarding when you can be of service to someone.”

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