Count y wants to hold ta x rate at 60 cents
A s th at time of year is rap - idly approach ing when we mu st again pla n bud ge t and set the tax rate fo r the coming ye ar, I’ve been making preparat ion for tho se ac tiv ities. Th e ca lend ar of event s has been set and posted on our web site atwww.milamcount y. net beginning wit h meetings wit h all the elected officia ls and depa rtment he ad s during the fir st two we ek s of July to discuss their budget ne ed s culminat ing wit h the final approval at the commissioners cour t on Sept. 10.
Over thepastfew week sIhave d me t wit h the county judges in 10 of the surround ing counties of simil ar size to Mil am Cou nty to compar e pay and benefit s as well as other programs and pract ic es to gat her in formation for use in preparing our bud ge t pr oposa l.
I lea rned a lot from my count erpa rts in our neig hbor ing counties, got some go od ideas on dif ferent and bet ter way s of doing th ing s.
Tiffany Greene, who now handles our count y human resources responsibi lit ies along wit h ot her dut ie s unde r the ove rs ight of ou r aud itor, Da nic a Lara, has assiste d with this effort , and is bus y com pili ng the wage and benefit data that we gathered .
Th is is the se cond year that we have done this surve y. Wit h salaries and benef its compris - ing over 55% of our total cou nt y bu dge t, it’s imp ort ant th at we have a clear pictu re of wh er e we stand on pay and bene fits on each job category vs. the adjacent cou nties that are simila r in siz e to us.
Th e appr oach that ha s bee n endorsed by commissi oner s cou rt is to try to pay at or ne ar the average or me di an of the surv ey group ov er the long haul.
Last ye ar we com mu nic ate d the general results of the surve y and based any pay inc rea se decisions on that data, and will pla n to do the sa me agai n thi s year.
If you look at the te n counti es that I visi ted (Aus tin , Ba strop , Bu rles on, Cor yell, Fa lls, Lam - pasas, Le e, Lime ston e, Rober tson
, and Wa shington) four are larger in size by populat ion and six are smaller.
Compared by si ze of ta x ba se (by taxable value that is), five are larger and five are smaller.
The prelimi na ry tax roll values that ha ve jus t been announced (see page 1A) show a sig nific ant drop in ou r Mi lam County 2012 vs. 2011 tax ba se from $1.9 billion to $1.6 bi llion ( in ro und nu mbers).
This is due in part to the env ironmenta l exemption for the fluidize d bed of the Lumin ant Sandow
Unit 5 Powe r Plant granted by t he Te xa s Co mm is sio n on En viron men ta l Quality (TCEQ ) thi s pas t ye ar.
At the cur rent tax rate this will result in close to a million and a half le ss in ad valorem ta x revenue for the count y nex t yea r.
At any rate the commissioners and I are de dic at ed to hold ing the line on the 60- cent ad valor - em tax rate agai n in 2013 .
This al l adds up to mean that we will be ma king budget reduc - tions in 2013 ju st like in 2012.
Th e sig ni f icant inc reas e in revenues from the improved fine colle ctions and the Coryell County contract for housing prisoners will go a long way toward cover - ing the lost ad valorem taxes due to thi s reduced tax ba se.
Howev er, th e bud geting pro - ces s will be a challen ge again thi s ye ar.
dbarkemeyer@ milamc ounty.net