San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

August 4th, 2011
Cobb proposes Hays County budget

haysconewsby KOLTEN PARKER

County Judge Bert Cobb on Tuesday revealed his proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 which would freeze non-law enforcement and security hiring, cut social service funds and dip into reserves to avoid a tax increase.

Cobb proposes a tax rate of .4691 per $100 in property value, a tiny decrease from the current rate of .4692. If the court adopts the proposed tax rate, the owner of a $163,206 home – the county average this year – would pay $742.14, an increase of $3.41 over the current tax rate. Last year’s average home price was $162,445, thus the increase in tax despite the rate decrease.

Cobb’s $49.4 million general fund operating budget does not include money for new employees or raises except for law enforcement officers covered under civil service rules. Cobb anticipates adding 8.5 new civil service positions and giving raises or position regrades to 68 deputy sheriff’s and deputy constables. Cobb also funds 19 security personnel to staff the new Government Center scheduled to open next year.

“This is a skeleton that I hope the court will add meat to,” Cobb said.

The court set two public workshops, August 5 at 2 p.m. and August 15 at 6 p.m. at the Will Burnett Courtroom in the Hays County Courthouse in San Marcos, to discuss and alter Cobb’s proposed budget. Cobb advised the commissioners to consult with city staff and decide “what services are important to their constituents.”

Discussions in commissioner’s court focused on the tax rate and the need for social service funding.
“I don’t believe in spending money you don’t have and the proposed tax rate is the exact same,” the judge said.

All county social services, with the exception of public libraries, receive a 25 percent cut to funding in the upcoming fiscal year. Cobb, whose wife is a librarian, cited the significant budget cut by the State of Texas to its public libraries as a reason for not cutting funds.

“I think access to information is critical to our society,” Cobb said. “In my budget, we have the same spending for our public libraries as last year.”

Cobb’s budget also removes a $13,800 stipend the county current pays to state district judges who hear cases in Hays County.

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