The proposed tax rate for Williamson County's 2012–13 fiscal year will bank on commercial improvements throughout the county while making up for a dip in home values.
County Auditor David Flores proposed the effective tax rate of 48.9029 cents per $100 of property valuation during the county commissioners court meeting Aug. 7. The effective rate is the amount that would bring in same amount of revenue on the same properties as the previous year.
The 2012–13 proposed tax is 0.13 cents more than the 2011–12 rate of 48.7687 cents but will bring in approximately $5 million more in revenue because of new property values added to the tax rolls. Countywide commercial growth will contribute to a larger tax base for 2013, but lower assessed property values are keeping the rate higher, meaning the average county homeowner will see their taxes increase by approximately $2.87 next year, Flores said.
“We have new improvements, and when you calculate the effective tax rate, it's based off the values you are going to tax on. The effective tax then increases as [property] values decrease,” he said.
The tax is broken down into 28.1529 cents for the general fund, 4 cents for the road and bridge fund and 16.75 cents for debt service. The general fund and debt service tax portions have been slimmed down for the fiscal year, while the road and bridge tax has increased by 1 cent.
“I wanted to begin a cash-as-you-go program to take care of the roads and fund the road and bridge adequately,” Flores said of the road and bridge tax increase.
About $170 million in property tax revenues are projected to cover 80 percent of the county's budget for 2013. County Budget Officer Ashlie Blaylock recommended to commissioners a budget of $126.9 million for the general fund, which is $812 less than in 2012, and $18.4 million for the road and bridge fund, down $43,521 from 2012.
Totaling more than $204 million, including $59 million for the debt service fund, the budget reflects cuts to line items for equipment repair, miscellaneous funding, training dollars, new programs and vehicle deductibles. Blaylock also recommended removing the county's pooled car program, which she said has resulted in an $8,045 loss since 2010.
“We start as early as January looking at the budget. Basically, what we look at first is new programs, and immediately, if they're not necessary, they get cut,” Blaylock said. “Then we go to any contingency money. Any money for departments' 'what-ifs' gets cut out.”
The commissioners approved the budget and revenue reports and set a public hearing date to approve the budget for Aug. 28 at 10 a.m. Additional meetings to consider budget modifications have been scheduled for Aug. 20 from 8 a.m.–noon and Aug. 21 from 1–5 p.m.