Parker County Judge Mark Riley has proposed a bigger FY 2012-13 budget with no tax increase, despite a decrease in property tax revenue. The current total tax rate is proposed to stay the same at 41 cents per $100 assessed valuation.
The general fund tax rate is set at 26 cents per $100 assessed valuation, the debt rate for the transportation bond at 6.7 cents and the lateral road fund at 8.3 cents.
The proposed $37.3 million budget is larger than last year’s by about $1.6 million and includes about $350,000 to fund cost of living increases of about three percent for rank and file employees, who have not had raises for the past five years.
It will not include any increases in salaries and benefits for elected officials, as determined by a statutory vote taken by commissioners during a budget session yesterday, although grievances may be filed within 10 days of notification, Riley said.
Riley and commissioners George Conley, Craig Peacock and John Roth voted in favor of not increasing salaries and benefits for elected officials. Commissioner Dusty Renfro was absent.
“Elected officials are paid a good wage, and almost everyone has said they want to do something for the employees,” Riley said later. “We have employees at the low end of the pay scale. If we can help them, we should do that.”
Although property tax revenue is short by $487,000 this year, sales tax revenue is projected to climb by more than $1 million, according to the proposed budget.
Another revenue boost of about $510,000 is estimated to come from fees of office; revenue in this category has increased with the volume of business as residents have requested more new vehicle registrations, property deeds, records, etc.
“We’ve got money, unless something happens in the next couple of days that will take it away,” Riley told the court. “We have money that’s in a line allocated for increases for everybody except elected officials.”
“There is no increase in health insurance costs this year; PEBC (Public Employee Benefit Coop) has given us our numbers, so that is huge,” he said. “That’s really where the money’s coming from.”
Riley said PEBC worked with the county to estimate those costs — a big factor in the budget equation — early this year, before the end of August.
When asked to comment about the proposed budget, Riley said it was balanced and done with fewer property taxes.
“It’s a good budget we can live with,” he said, “and employees can do their jobs.”
The proposed budget does not require multiple public hearings, Riley said, because the tax rate is lower than the effective rate, the rate that produces the same amount of property tax revenue as the previous year’s rate based on the same properties.
A single public hearing on the budget has been set for Friday, Aug. 24, at 9:30 a.m.
Following the hearing, commissioners will vote on the new budget and tax rate.
County auditor Mike Rhoten, noting the retail development in Weatherford and Hudson Oaks, said revenue from sales taxes is increasing across the state.
“It’s an indicator that we’re beginning to move forward; this is when it’s great to be in Texas,” Riley added. He said Rhoten would continue to watch the numbers in the next couple of weeks as the county closes on its final budget figures.