Hays County Courthouse.
By LIZ SUMTER
Hays County Judge
The efficient use of your tax dollar is very important to me. I treat our county budget like I treat my own — save as much as I can, live within my means, and borrow only when necessary. This simple financial policy allowed us to get for Hays County an AA bond rating, an upgrade from A+. This means we get lower interest rates when we borrow money for our major projects.
Because the county budget is based on your county property tax dollars, I thought you should know exactly what you are getting for your tax dollars. It’s your money; you’re entitled to know how it is being spent. As an example, let’s start with the average home value in the county — $165,000.00. If your home value is $165,000.00, you would pay approximately $752.00 in county property taxes, or an increase of about $26.00 dollars more than last year. As to where that money goes, here’s a list of just some of the services:
* Law Enforcement (Deputy Sheriffs, Constables, SWAT, Drug Task Force, Animal Control, Crime Analysis, 911 Dispatch, Traffic Control, warrant services, general enforcement of the law, etc.);
* Correction Facilities (staff, food and medical/dental/mental services for inmates as required by law, extradition, transportation, etc.);
* Health Department (immunizations, vaccinations, well child care, family care, prescription subsidies, indigent burial services, etc.);
* Public record services (birth/death/property records, county and district court case records, clerks for courts, records preservation, etc.)
* Homeland Security;
* Tax notice, collection and vehicle registration;
* Fire investigation and education;
* Justice System (prosecuting attorneys, district, county court –at-law judges and justice of the peace, court reporters, bailiffs, juries, law library, court collection, victim restitution, adult and juvenile probation services, juvenile detention center, etc.);
* County road maintenance and a flood warning system;
* Subdivision planning and review and environmental health inspections (restaurant, septic and trash dumping);
* County maps and reflective address signs;
* Election services;
* Veteran services;
* Dump stations and recycling services;
* 5 Mile Dam Park and Civic Center;
* Social services funding (senior groups, libraries, youth services, historical commission, EMS, cemetery maintenance, food bank, crime stoppers, women’s center, alcohol and drug abuse council, CARTS, etc.) to name a few; and
* All the support systems that go along with the above (human resources, budgeting, investment management, grant writing, public information and website, facility management, information services, etc.).
Beyond those traditional county funded services, we’ve added on or increased the following:
* Dedicated EMS and Fire Dispatching;
* Affordable Alternative Dispute Resolution Center (ADR);
* Affordable Small Business Insurance program; and
* Additional funding to social services that provide the basics to families.
Finally, the additional $26.00, in taxes, funds the $68 million of road projects and $10 million of park projects.
To get to where we are, we instituted significant cuts in the budget — cuts that will not affect the quality of services. Most of the cuts came from the elimination of nine unfilled positions. We also re-directed some of our savings to our infrastructure fund and programs that will save us money in the future.
As always, I want to hear from our citizens, so please feel free to send an email, make a phone call, or come to our regularly scheduled Commissioners Court meetings on Tuesday. As I like to say, my office may be in the County Courthouse, but the citizens own the building.
Liz Sumter (D-Wimberley) was elected Hays County Judge in 2006.
(Editor’s note: The above has been revised to show that the county’s bond rating has increased to AA from A+, instead of AAA from AA. Addendum: Sumter submitted the revision.)Email | Print