Valuations up, but tax rate may drop a penny

One thing you can be certain of in July in Texas is that the temperature is going up and the rain is going away. Looks like things are right on course for July 2009.

One other thing that July brings to most counties across the state is budget time. Yep, that's right it is time to prepare the 2010 operating budget for Milam County.

I have written before about the difficulties of trying to put a budget together with only six months of information, but guess you might say that is the nature of the beast. County budgeting is one of those things that you do your best to guesstimate how things will be throughout 2010 only seven months into 2009.

While bad economic news is making every media across the nation things are a little bit better here in Central Texas. Yes, we are still losing jobs, but as Ray Perryman would say, we are better off because we are not losing them as fast as everyone else. Ray Perryman, by the way, is a world-famous economist who can actually put complicated economic analyses into terms a regular person can understand.

We are currently in the final stages of filing a proposed budget for 2010. At this point I say "proposed" because we do not have the final certified appraisal figures at this time. However, preliminary figures show that current total values across the county are up just over $116,860,000.

The 2009 total budget for all departments and areas of county government was $15,163,364. The proposed budget for 2010 is $16,058,512. That is a total budgetary increase for Milam County of $895,147. This figures out to be a 5.57-percent increase in the overall budget.

The 2009 general fund budget was $9,748,361. The proposed 2010 general fund budget is $10,476,491. A n increase of $728,129, or 6.95-percent increase.

Road and bridge for the precinct budgets in 2009 were $4,738,926. The proposed budget for 2010 for the four precincts totals $4,980,568. This proposed 2010 budget is 3. 45-percent higher than the 2009-operating budget.

So where do all of these increased costs come from?

Personnel and benefits are major costs. Currently there is a proposed two-percent cost of living raise for all Milam County employees. There are no raises in the 2010 budget for elected offi- cials. Total increase as a result of the employee cost of living raise comes to just under $110,000.

So where does this leave the proposed tax rate?

The rate proposed for 2010 will be 61 cents (per $100 valuation) compared the 2009 rate of 62 cents.

Ad valorem taxes will account for 58.7 percent of the budget with the remainder coming from sales tax revenue, fees and commissions the county receives.

While the economy still appears to be strong in Texas compared to other parts of the nation, many of the experts, like Dr. Perryman, are predicting the bottom of this depression to come sometime during the summer of 2010.

That should make the 2011 budget time even more fun.

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