County tax rate remains flat

Published 9:12 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2015

JeffCo Commissioners adopt $136M budget

BEAUMONT — The Jefferson County Commissioners’ Court passed a $136 million budget with no discussion and no community input in what became a very brief public hearing Monday afternoon.

Everette “Bo” Alfred, Commissioner for Precinct 4, said the court took into consideration “all the hard things” placed before the commissioners at the beginning of the budget process and adopted a working budget without raising the tax rate.

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The commissioners voted to keep the tax rate flat at $0.365 per $100 valuation despite needing a tax rate of $0.375971 to raise the same amount of property tax revenue from the previous fiscal year. The tax rate of $0.365 allocates $0.342106 to the general fund and $0.22894 to the county debt service.

County Auditor Patrick Swain said the adopted budget will raise less revenue from property taxes than last year’s budget by $1,719,524 — a decrease of 1.92 percent from 2014-15.

“The Commissioners’ Court of Jefferson County was committed to adopting a budget for the year 2015-16 which would not require an increase in the county’s overall property tax rate,” Swain wrote in the proposed budget document approved by the commissioners Monday afternoon.

Swain said the adopted 2015-16 fiscal year budget provides for planned expenditures and a net of contingency operations for all operating funds totaling $136,789,973. Commissioners also approved a $370,000 contingency fund in the general fund.

“This is what enables us to do the job we’re charged with doing,” Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said Monday. “We had some challenges this year, but we got through them.”

Branick cautioned county departments to remain focused and cautious with their spending in 2015-16. The court approved a general fund budget with nearly $10 million more in expenditures than revenues — and that was with “making the tough calls.”

“I hope I’m wrong and the prices of oil get back to where we need them so our property taxes can go back up,” Branick said, trailing off and switching topics during Commissioners’ Court Monday. “But we did advise all the department heads and elected officials of the difficulties before we got started, and I’d like to thank them for coming in with (cuts in mind) and understanding what we faced this year.”

To view the full budget, visit the Jefferson County website.

Twitter: @crhenderson90