The Hays County Commissioners Court announced a $174.5 million budget last week that holds the property tax rate to $0.4690 per $100 of taxable value.
The budget represents a 13.8 percent increase from the current budget of $150.4 million. The new budget, which is to be officially set on Sept. 17, will take effect on Oct. 1.
County Auditor Bill Herzog noted that the tax rate has remained relatively stable in the last five years while the county has initiated numerous capital improvments.
“We have been able to consolidate services by building a $60 million government center, which includes adequate room for future growth,” Herzog said. “With voter-approved bonds for roads and parks, we’ve purchased some $30 million in parkland and are continuing more than $200 million in major mobility and safety improvements to our roads – all to meet the needs of one of the fastest-growing counties in the state and nation.”
The proposed county budget includes approximately $1.1 million for a new collective bargaining agreement for specific law enforcement positions (voters approved collective bargaining in 2008). Other additions include $800,000 for employee pay raises and $37,000 for elected officials’ pay raises, $220,000 to establish an Office of the General Counsel, and $600,000 for new positions or re-grades for current positions.
Under the proposed budget, a new deputy constable position would be added during the budget year in both Precincts 1 and 2, and the County Courts-at-Law would get a new assistant court administrator to help with the growing court dockets. The Sheriff’s Office and the Transportation Department also would each receive additional funds for equipment and supplies. The proposed budget also increases funding by $7,000 to the Scheib Center, which provides mental health and mental disability services to the area, and dedicates $1 million to water resource issues.
The county will save nearly $170,000 annually with the closing of the Hays County Civic Center, planned for the end of October. The county has reached an agreement on a new facility, which it is funding in conjunction with the City of Dripping Springs, and will hold county sponsored events there while it determines what type of new civic center will replace the current one.