Thursday, August 20, 2009

Commissioners unanimously vote for increase in county property tax

The Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District received a $100,000 grant in the new budget. And a nice chunk of change was added for water conservation consulting services and rainwater system incentives

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By Bob Ochoa
RoundUp Editor

Hays County commissioners and County Judge Liz Sumter late Wednesday declared a new, higher property tax rate of 46.92-cents to support their/our proposed 2010 budget, totaling $73,813,660, plus $9,685,364 in debt. The vote was unanimous. The new county budget goes into effect on Oct. 1

The proposed new tax rate is an increase of 1.42-cents over the current rate. We'll all have to pony up about $26 a year more on average, and for some, a whole lot more. The vote on the tax increase came after a marathon 2-day, almost continuous, court session over the budget.

Public hearings will come next for citizen input and comment. Commissioners court can lower but not raise their declared new tax rate in a final vote next month, and the chances that it will be lowered are slim.

Here are more details from a brief phone interview this morning with Judge Sumter. We interrupted the judge, btw, as she was knee deep into signing all the road bond paperwork so the road bonds & road work can get financed out there somewhere in the bond market, at between 4% and 5% interest.

"I think we got a real good bond rating and we were able to get the low interest rate for the citizens, so I feel pretty good," the judge said. "We kept our AA rating and didn't have to buy the insurance because our rating was so high and that reduced our tax rate a little.

"The good news is the Hwy 290 project and the IH 35 projects will carry enough traffic that we expect them to pay all out within 12 years or less. We're getting back (from TxDOT) 100 percent of construction costs, minus interest (on the debt) of course. The 110 San Marcos (east loop) I think is about 70% pay back of construction. FM 1626 – no design and right-of-way (reimbursement) but 100 percent of construction."

We are hearing from other sources that Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton continues to insist on a full 5-lane reconstruction of 1626 even though it may not be necessary – lots of pressure from very impatient commuters. Try imagining a super fast FM highway suddenly bottling up at the south end of Brodie Lane. Mr. Barton would do well to rethink his full monty five-laner down to four, max, or some other efficient design. It would be the penny wise thing to do for the taxpayers while still improving mobility.

Why did it take two long days to declare the tax rate for 2010? The vote was originally scheduled to take place around noon on Tuesday, after the regular commissioners court meeting.
"Our budget (Sumter's duties include preparing the annual budget) was really tight when we handed it to commissioners," said Sumter. "There were some significant challenges in the road budget part of it. We had to find ways to fund it and we did without raising additional taxes or bridging it (to future expenditures or with debt)." You can see the video leading up to the tax rate vote on the county web site – when it's up and loaded look for the Aug. 19 video session, towards the end.

Six unfilled county job positions were eliminated from the budget. Two other, new positions were added, one described as a "revenue producer," and one in the county treasurer's office.

Here's a happy face for conservationists: The hotly debated 6-acre subdivision rule (a compromise from 6.5 that was reached in the waning days of the vote) passed commissioners court, along with a slew of other new or enhanced development regulations. See this site: for a down loadable pdf document of the new regs. The Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District received a $100,000 grant in the new budget. And a nice chunk of change was added for water conservation consulting services and rainwater system incentives. This money is coming not from the taxpayers but from the county's LCRA 6% Fund.


Anonymous said...

Lemme see if I've got this right. Every single one of our County Commissioners voted to INCREASE our property taxes?

How soon can we throw all of 'em the hell out?

yougotmooned said...

You got it straight, jack. It was 5 to 0. I haven't seen this news publicized much, probably cause it's just too embarrassing for some members of the commissioners court. It would appear our local excuses for media are playing along.

Anonymous said...

How do you expect to pay for the necessities this county provides? Do you really want to have no one answer when you call 911?

Anonymous said...

They had to vote for the tax increase because of the road bond package voters were foolish enough to vote for.

But everyone's taxes go up ONLY an average of $27???

What a load of manure THAT is!

People will be paying a whole lot more. Don't forget about the appraisal values spiking even as our home devaluate.

In addition, these roads will require more money in a few years and most likely there will be another package to vote on based on the previously approved package.

As much as some people here "put-down" certain residents for being against raising taxes, in general, during this harsh economy and against county salary raises and against approving the road bond package, THEY ARE CORRECT. Hays County residents are getting screwed for the long-term.

Anonymous said...

But the residents of Hays county voted for the road bonds overwhelmingly and I think that most of them knew their taxes were going to increase by a small amount each year. I just get tired of people complaining about taxes all the time and still enjoying what their taxes buy them.

yougotmooned said...

I'll tell you what these tax increases are paying for that I will not necessarily be enjoying, they're paying for tons of concrete and asphalt to help people move faster, use more gas, emit more toxic fumes into my airspace, and attract more polluters. $207 mil in road bonds. $30 mil in parks and open space. Looks to me like 7 to 1 in favor of the rat race. Our commissioners court has got its priorities back ass-wards. The only saving grace is that the rats are concentrated in the northern and eastern parts of the county. I guess I can pay more taxes to keep 'em all out there.

Anonymous said...

How can we get a detailed, line-by-line copy of this Hays County budget, so "the people" can go through it and see where their tax money is going?

Anonymous said...

Look at your property tax statement if you want to know "basically" where your property taxes are going.

It doesn't tell you the line by line of where the money is spent, but you don't need that to know you are getting screwed.

No one likes paying taxes, but more of us would not mind if they were being used properly and for the community good.

There is no REAL oversight on how our tax dollars are being spent.

Conley and Barton are out to make money and political names for themselves as they try to scoot up the ladder.

Ford is afraid to "make waves" and do what is right for county residents. For the most part she is useless.

Ingalsbe has her "butt" stuck on the proverbial fence and gets her power by being the deciding vote on most issues.

Sumter is on the wrong path with many issues and has little control over the commissioners. She has little clout and commissioners know this.

Hays County residents need to bang down the doors and ring the phones of all commissioners and demand them to stop being motivated by wealthy special interests and start working to help residents live without cob-webs in their wallets.

These people really suck as our leaders.

The only recourse for taxpayers is to keep on voting out commissioners until we get a few who work in our best interests.

Unfortunately, it may take a long time to do this, if ever it can happen.

Anonymous said...

"The only saving grace is that the rats are concentrated in the northern and eastern parts of the county."

Really nice. Sounds like something Lou Dobbs would say.

yougotmooned said...

I stand corrected. I'll rephrase: I don't mind spending a little more in taxes to keep the "rat race" in the north and east parts of our county. I'm no fan of Lou Dobbs. And I wouldn't mind spending even a little more to preserve our hills and open space out here in the western part of our county. I figure the more we preserve, the less we'll all be paying in taxes in the long run. Think our two western commissioners could ever wrap their brains around such a simple concept?

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your correction, yougotmooned.

Another Dumb Taxpayer said...

Hey Bob, what's a "revenue producer"?

A bank robber? A campaign financier?

And what is the salary? I may apply. :)

The RoundUp said...

Thanks for the question about the "revenue" producer position added to the county budget, and to an earlier question about where to view the proposed new budget, line by line.

Here's what County Auditor Bill Herzog shared: The "revenue" producer is a new officer in the county's Compliance Dept, which is connected to the court system. The department tracks people down who owe the county money – tickets, fines, etc. Herzog said the county wants to beef up the department to increase collections.

As for the budget, Mr. Herzog said the proposed new budget, in detail, will be posted online in the county web site hopefully by the weekend . . . A public hearing on the budget & tax rate is scheduled Wednesday Sept. 16 at the courthouse.

Anonymous said...

As long as we're fielding questions, "Why does it take weeks and weeks for the Commissioners to post meeting minutes on the Internet?"

Residents who can't make the Commissioners Meetings should be able to read about them within the same week.

Sometimes minutes are not posted for months. What's up with that?

Anonymous said...

How much higher will our taxes go? Is it going to be endless taxation here in Hays County?

We pay top dollar now for getting little in return.

Taxes for schools; many of us don't have kids going to public school or don't have children at all.

Taxes for road bonds, which many of us did not want and many will not even use the new / expanded roadways.

Taxes for new county offices; what's wrong with the old ones during these hard economic times.

Taxes for county salary increases during this difficult financial period.

Taxes, taxes, taxes and we get little in return for them.

Taxes taken via annual appraisal creep; increased tax rates; road and school bonds; other proposals.

Commissioners are either stupid or just interested in their wealthy campaign contributors. So, which is it?

What can tazpayers, a.k.a., homeowners, do to stop runaway taxes?

Anonymous said...

As was stated previously, keep on voting-out commissioners until you get a batch who work for the community good. Otherwise, stop complaining.

New blood! said...

New blood! New blood! New blood!!!