- San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas - https://smmercury.com -

County commissioners vote to restore some social services funding

STAFF REPORT

On Aug. 5, the Hays County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to restore some of the money Hays County Judge Bert Cobb (R-San Marcos) had proposed to cut from social service agencies next budget year.

In his fiscal year (FY) 2012 recommended budget, Cobb proposed that the pool of money used to fund nonprofits in FY 2011 be decreased by 25 percent, excluding libraries, which were funded fully.

Commissioners opted to use $173,000 from the County’s $800,000 Tobacco Settlement Fund to prop up the budgets of many organizations affected by the proposed cuts. Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Jones (R-Kyle) was not present during the vote.

Cobb’s recommended budget had allocated $756,905 from the county’s general fund for social services and $98,250 from its Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) Fund for water-related agencies.

While some agencies will still receive less money than they did in FY 2011, the additional funding allows more of them to be funded at a level closer to what they received in FY 2011, according to Hays County officials. Additional funds could be allocated as the budget process continues.

The tobacco settlement fund exists as a result of a settlement in 1998 between the tobacco industry and the State of Texas and represents the county’s share of the Tobacco Settlement Permanent Trust Account.

The current list of social services funding and other budget planning documents are available at www.co.hays.tx.us. The county’s next scheduled public budget review is 6 p.m. on Aug. 15, at the Hays County Courthouse, which is located at 111 East San Antonio Street in San Marcos.

Commissioners may discuss or act on FY 2012 budget matters at their regularly-scheduled meeting on August 16, when they plan to vote on the proposed tax rate and set public hearings for the rate.

Cobb proposes a property tax rate of $0.4691 per $100 in taxable valuation, a small decrease from the current rate of $0.4692. If the court adopts the proposed tax rate, the owner of a $163,206 home – the county average this year – would pay $742.14, which is an increase of $3.41 over the current tax rate. Last year’s average home price was $162,445, hence the tax increase 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 by a collectively-bargained agreement negotiated in April. The county law enforcement employment contract guarantees police a 3.52-percent average raise this year and two percent raises in each of the following two budget years.

Cobb proposes the addition of 8.5 new civil service positions and raises or position re-grades to 68 deputy sheriff’s and deputy constables. Cobb also proposes the addition of 19 security personnel to staff the new county government center scheduled to open by January.