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September 25th, 2009
Hays County tax increase could have been avoided


Hays County property taxes are going up again, but they didn’t have to.

In a four-to-one vote, the county judge and commissioners voted to add another 1.42 cents to the property tax rate, raising it to 46.92 cents per $100 of taxable valuation. I was the lone opposition to the tax increase. Under the 2010 fiscal plan, Hays County will collect $4.4 million more in property taxes than in 2009, with about $1.1 million coming as a direct result of the property tax increase.

I voted against this tax increase because it was unnecessary and out of touch with Hays County families and businesses. As a result of the national economic recession, more people are unemployed and businesses are struggling. Families all across the county are tightening their belts and your government—at all levels—should do the same.

During the county budget negotiations, I proposed several budget cuts that would have eliminated the need to raise property taxes altogether. Moreover, my proposals would have also continued to fully fund important, voter-approved road and park projects as well as increasing funding to local social service organizations whose resources are strained by the effects of the recession.

In an attempt to reduce county expenses, I proposed exactly $1,546,222 in budget cuts. My proposals included a countywide hiring freeze except for emergency dispatchers. Many other local governments have used hiring freezes as an effective means to cut costs. Additionally, I called for cuts in county legal expenses, contingency items, capital equipment purchases, employee bonuses, and a three percent cut in non-personnel funding. These are all items that could handle a reduced funding level during the coming year without impairing the level of service that citizens expect.

I also proposed a reduced level of funding for the county’s new Government Center. I agree with my colleagues on the court that the Government Center is a necessary project. I disagree, however, that it needs to cost so much. (A full list of my cost savings proposals can be found on my Web site.

This was a tough budget year, and I don’t believe that the budget my colleagues supported was altogether irresponsible. However, I know that we could and should have done better. Making cuts to a budget is never easy, but during tough economic times, citizens deserve a government that acts responsibly and keeps spending in check. They certainly don’t deserve tax increases that could have been avoided.

WILL CONLEY was elected Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner in 2004 and re-elected in 2008. You can contact him at

Commissioner Conley’s cost-saving 2010 budget proposals:

  • $500,000 savings from the county building fund
  • $245,000 savings from a three percent cut to non-personnel items
  • $235,000 savings in a one-year elimination of employee bonuses
  • $157,000 savings by delaying new hires (except dispatchers)
  • $120,000 savings from the county road line item
  • $87,222 savings in capital equipment expense
  • $72,000 savings by using reserves to pay for capital improvements
  • $50,000 savings from reducing county legal expenses
  • $25,000 savings by funding the Hays Trinity Groundwater District at current levels
  • $20,000 savings from contingency reductions
  • $20,000 savings from the dispute resolution center
  • $15,000 savings from Envision Central Texas

Commissioner Conley has also taken action to:

  • Suspended work on the precinct three county office until economic conditions improve
  • Cut his precinct three operating budget
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6 thoughts on “Hays County tax increase could have been avoided

  1. It’s good to see someone in this county has some common sense to look at the whole picture and find ways to “tighten the belt” like the rest of this country is doing right now.

  2. I might add that another 20K could be saved by eliminating the newly created Dispute Resolution Center which is not needed, most of the judges did not want and most importantly most of the attorneys will not be using. What galls me more than anything is that we have added a $5.00 extra fee ( I believe that the figure) to each new law suit filed in the county to pay for this mess and make justice even more inaccessible to those seeking access to the JP system ( Where no lawyer like me is needed) and the JP should be resolving disputes anyway. This is another white elephant.

    On the other hand, the legislature has authorized us to create a veterans court to deal with returning veterans that run into legal issues and need help. This can be done at no or little expense with volunteers and existing veterans with in our County.

  3. It is hard for me to take Will Conley seriously.

    Interesting how he thinks voting no for the entire budget allows him to say he said yes to certain things in the budget.

    Voting no means you voted no to 10 more dispatchers for fire and EMS, no to the 4% step increase for deputies, no to paying back the debt that is owed for the roads and parks, no to putting aside funds for infrastructure, no to pay back our contractual obligations, no to paying employees and their health benefits, no to the low cost insurance program for small businesses, no to the San Marcos economic development partnership, no to social services, no to the Hays County/San Marcos EMS, no to new subdivisions, no to public safety…..

    I also like how he has budget cuts – the 20,000 to fund the DRC making mediation affordable to the poor so that justice can be served….well, they have already performed two CPS mediations for free for the county saving the county well over 25,000, so they made us money… So I guess he voted no to cost savings in the budget also.

    You see what Conley doesn’t realize is that you have to vote YES, to be able to say what you didn’t particularly like supporting in the budget but the budget as a whole was a good thing.

    Voting no means the budget as a whole was a bad thing, that on balance it was worse than the good things that were in it.

    Weird outlook on life – voting no was purely political because no one can point to the budget and say that as a whole it was more bad than good.

    Does Will Conley even believe his own rhetoric?

  4. django

    that is the Stupidest statement I have ever seen. It isn’t an all or nothing thing. This is why Mr. Conley specifically laid out what he would cut from the budget. Maybe you need to take a lesson in how the budget process works. I for one am happy to see some one fighting for the tax payer

  5. Perhaps you should have consulted with your friend, “mr. conley” when he was so busy getting that big road bond passed last year.

    Was he looking out for the taxpayer then?

  6. Are Commissioner Conley’s proposed budget cuts, standard Republican grandstanding or not? Commissioner Conley is in a positiion to do more than just vote no on the County Budget. Unlike school board members, city council members or state or federal legislators, the office of county commissioner has the power to actual spend money not just appropriate it. Commissioner Conley doesn’t actually have to spend all the money in the County Budget set aside for Precinct 3. He could show his vote and comments aren’t simply political grand standing by standing up for Hays County taxpayers and implementing some of his budget cuts in his precinct. This would be leading by example showing the Commissioners Court and all of Hays County that there are places to cut spending and this isn’t just a cheap set up for a county judge race next year.

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