Smith County Commissioners to vote on 2015 budget, property tax rate today

Published on Monday, 25 August 2014 23:10 - Written by Adam Russell, arussell@tylerpaper.com

County commissioners will consider approval of Smith County’s 2015 budget and property tax rate at its 9:30 a.m. meeting inside the Courthouse Annex Building, 200 E. Ferguson St. in Tyler.

Three votes from the five-member court are needed for action on the proposed $83 million budget that includes a property tax rate increase to 33 cents from 32.3564 cents per $100 valuation, or about six-tenths of 1 cent.

A tax bill on a $100,000 home would go up $6.44 to $330 compared to $323.56 per year.

County Judge Joel Baker’s proposed budget would raise $2.12 million more revenue from property taxes than last year, a 4.7 percent increase. More than $822,000 of that increase is from new property on tax rolls.

Baker said the court would dedicate the tax increase to the county road project fund. It represents about $940,000 in revenue.

The budget also calls for a one-time transfer of $2 million to a fund dedicated to major county road projects. The transfer and property tax increase would give the Road and Bridge Department about $3 million in additional funding compared to last year, more than $11 million total.

It also would add 19 new positions, including 12 jailers and a general counsel position that would represent county commissioners. The budget also creates a county administrator who would actively manage several departments at the pleasure of the court and act similarly to a city manager.

Baker also has proposed an across-the-board 1.8 percent cost-of-living increase for employees and move the county’s retirement rate to up to a 175 percent match from 125 percent. The county had matched 200 percent before 2010, when it was cut back to 100 percent due to the poor economy.

There has been limited but targeted opposition to items within the proposed budget, including the property tax rate increase, the employee benefit increase, a lack of long-term strategies about county roads and the two commissioners court administrative positions, which are each budgeted a pay range exceeding $100,000.