Thursday, August 20, 2009
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
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: http://www.co.hays.tx.us/ 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.
Posted by RoundUp Editor at 12:47 PM