Washington County Commissioners approved adoption of the budget and levied the property tax rate for the new fiscal year at their meeting today (Tuesday).
Following a brief public hearing where no one spoke, commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the proposed budget, which accounts for $32.5 million in expected expenditures. They also voted to levy the tax rate for 2020 at 49.5 cents per $100 valuation, the same rate from 2019.
County Judge John Durrenberger said this year’s budget reflects the work of county departments and officials to reduce expenses where possible.
Commissioner Joy Fuchs said the county did not go over this budget lightly, adding that commissioners spent many weeks working through every line item trying to figure out the best way to do things for county taxpayers and employees.
Commissioner Candice Bullock said the county had to figure in reduced sales tax revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was very important that county departments and offices worked to bring their budgets down. Commissioner Don Koester said their efforts kept the county from having to raise taxes.
Included in the overall budget is an additional $540,009 in revenue from property taxes compared to last year’s budget, a 2.886 percent increase. The property tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year is $594,000.
The levied tax rate consists of 48.07 cents for maintenance and operations, and 1.43 cents for debt service. Washington County Chief Appraiser Willy Dilworth said while the rate is less than the no-new-revenue rate of 49.87 cents per $100, the county will still draw in new revenue because of the new property added to the tax roll. Fuchs said anyone who did not see an increase in property values will not see an increase in taxes.
Also at today's meeting, commissioners approved a resolution re-adopting the guidelines and criteria for granting tax abatement in a reinvestment zone created in the county. The phase-in incentive means the partial, temporary exemption from ad valorem taxes on certain qualifying property in a reinvestment zone designated by the City of Brenham or Washington County for economic development purposes. Brenham Economic Development Director Susan Cates said the county is required by state statute to readopt the policy every two years.
The court also heard monthly reports from the Washington County Sheriff's Office, EMS, E-911, Information Technology (IT), and Veterans Service Officer.