The proposed Brazos County budget for fiscal year 2020 unveiled Tuesday morning by County Judge Duane Peters calls for a $2 million budget increase and an increase in the property tax rate. The overall budget, if approved, will rise to $249.58 million from the current budget of $247.03 million.
The FY 2020 proposed budget is balanced at a tax rate of $0.4975 per $100 of valuation, Peters announced during Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting. The tax rate will effectively be raised by 7.44% and will, if approved, raise taxes for maintenance and operations on a $100,000 home by approximately $15.80, according to the budget proposal, which is available for public viewing on the county’s website.
The tax rate increase, if approved by the county’s commissioners next month, would be the county’s first rate change since 2013, when the county slightly decreased the property tax rate. The county last raised the tax rate in 2012.
Peters and other county officials present explained that the proposed budget is subject to change following public feedback opportunities and discussions among the county’s leaders.
Peters cited the recent passage of Senate Bill 2, which requires counties or cities to obtain November election approval to raise property tax revenues by more than 3.5% in a single year, as one factor in the decision to propose a tax rate increase.
“Over the years, we have tried to be efficient in everything we do,” Peters said. “My concern is this 3.5% cap that’s gonna happen next year — my concern is that we won’t have the ability to try to continue to maintain and provide the services that people have grown to expect.”
Peters said that officials estimated over $60 million worth of road renovations may be needed in the next five years. About $6.9 million is allocated for county road work in the FY 2020 budget proposal.
The proposed budget calls for a net increase of 21 county-paid positions, for a new total of 945. Peters said that the proposal includes funding to replace 21 vehicles, including four sheriff’s office vehicles, four jail administration vehicles and four road and bridge vehicles.
Constable Precinct 2 also will receive funding to purchase one additional vehicle, according to the proposal.
The proposed budget is based off a 2018-projected county population of 226,758, up from the 2010 U.S. Census count of 194,851 county residents. The 2020 fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and runs through the end of September 2020.
The budget calls for about $26.89 million in spending on capital projects, a decrease from the $44.67 million spent in FY 2019. Capital projects being funded include, if approved, $3 million for an AgriLife Extension building and just over $2 million for the justice of the peace and constable Precinct 1 building.
The proposed budget includes $3 million for sheriff’s office work, including a new electronic medical records system and for renovation and expansion of the Brazos County Jail kitchen. Additionally, Peters said the renovations on the R.J. Holmgreen Brazos County Juvenile Justice Center were mainly paid for in the current year’s budget.
The budget estimates the county’s sales tax revenue to come in at $18.3 million during FY 2020, an increase over the current fiscal year’s estimate of $16.86 million.
Based on the current adjusted certified tax revenues, county officials estimate the proposed tax rate of $0.4975 per $100 valuation would result in revenues of about $86.2 million available for the county’s general fund at a collection rate of 98%. The number, if approved, would be an increase of about 10.2% from last year’s $78.2 million available.
County residents will have two opportunities to weigh in on the tax rate and the budget. Public meetings will be at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 27, and at 6 p.m. Sept. 3. Both meetings will be held on the first floor of the County Administration Building in the Commissioners Court’s regular room.
To view the proposed budget online, visit brazoscountyTX.gov and locate the “Financial Reports and Budgets” tab in the middle of the page.