Hays County Auditor Bill Herzog, foreground, discusses the county’s proposed budget with County Judge Liz Sumter, left, and Hays County Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley, right, at last week’s meeting of the Hays County Commissioners Court. Photo by Sean Batura.
By SEAN BATURA
Hays County commissioners unanimously approved proposal last week to increase the property tax rate by 1.38 per $100 of taxable value for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 budget, raising the rate in Hays County to 48.3 cents.
Combined with the 1.42-cent rate increase funding the present budget, the proposed rate increase would raise the property tax rate by 2.8 cents in the last two years, the largest such two-year increase since it went up 4.23 cents from fiscal years 1995 to 1997. During that period, the rate increased from 41.52 cents in 1995 to 43.9 cents in 1996 and 45.75 cents in 1997.
Commissioners were in general agreement that they would continue discussing the budget in the next few weeks to find a way to approve a tax rate lower than the proposed rate.
“I think we’re not saying that we’re going to pass a 48.30 cent tax rate,” said Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle), who is running for county judge in November against Republican Bert Cobb (R-San Marcos). “I think it will be no higher than that — there or lower.”
Hays County Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley (R-Wimberley) said he will attempt to prevent any increase in the county’s property tax rate. Last year, Conley said he voted against the FY 2010 budget because it included a property tax increase.
At present, commissioners plan to adopt the FY 2011 budget on Sept. 15 or sooner.
The proposed tax rate is estimated to generate $52,228,795, up from the $51,095,885 expected from the present rate of 46.92 cents.
The amount of revenue to be generated is based on estimated property values within the county. Commercial property values in the last year increased in Hays County, while home values decreased, according to preliminary figures released in April by the Hays County Appraisal District (CAD).
The county’s preliminary market value increased 1.71 percent to $14.26 billion this year, up from $14 billion in 2009. Countywide, commercial and industrial property increased in value by six percent, from $1.27 billion in 2009 to $1.35 billion this year. Residential multi-family property increased by 5.30 percent from $510 million in 2009 to $537 million in 2010.
The FY 2011 budget includes a beginning operating fund balance of $30,885,270, operating fund revenues of $64,624,164 and operating fund expenses of $69,363,946. The estimated ending operating fund balance for FY 2011 is $26,170,621.
The beginning operating fund balance for FY 2011 is proposed to be $5,320,270 more than the present year’s beginning operating fund balance of $25,565,000. The proposed FY 2011 budget includes operating revenues $5,912,284 less than FY 2010’s budgeted operating revenues of $70,536,448. The proposed FY 2011 budget includes operating expenses $6,961,212 less than FY 2010’s operating expenses of $76,325,158.
Including operating, debt, and construction funds, the proposed estimated beginning fund balance for FY 2011 is $193,211,417, estimated revenues are $81,798,750, estimated expenditures are $247,986,863, and the estimated ending fund balance is $27,048,437. Most of the proposed total beginning fund balance constitutes construction funds of $158,926,147, only $210,356 of which would not be generated from bonds or certificates of obligation.
The greatest increase proposed for the FY 2011 budget is in construction funds, with the county slated to spend $161 million on capital projects. The county will cover those costs with $159 million already in the construction fund balance, plus $2 million in new revenues. The Hays County government center project is proposed for the largest share of those expenditures, $56 million in FY 2011.
On March 23, commissioners voted 4-1 to sell $72 million in certificates of obligation (COs) to pay for the government center, currently under construction near Wonder World Drive and Stagecoach Trail. Commissioners in April unanimously approved firm Balfour Beatty’s guaranteed maximum price proposal of $52,085,459 for the 232,000-square-foot building, which was about $6,214,541 less than the original not-to-exceed amount of $58,288,337.
Commissioners discussed using some of the debt issued for the government center as reimbursements to help prevent a tax rate increase, but made no decision either way.Email | Print