September 7, 2022

 

 

Wilco sets new budget, tax rates

2023 fiscal year General Fund reaches $282.4 million

By KATE THURMOND

Williamson Commissioners Commissioners approved the official Fiscal Year 2023 budget and set the county tax rate for the coming year at its meeting August 30. The decision came after weeks of discussion and public hearings.

The adopted FY 2023 General Fund budget was set at $282,468,650.  

The total county tax rate was set at $0.375608 per $100 valuation, about 6.5 cents less than the county’s total tax rate for the ongoing 2022 Fiscal Year. This rate will decrease property taxes on the average homestead residence by approximately $100 next year, according to the county. 

The 2023 fiscal year begins October 1. 

The percentage-based exemption for ad valorem taxes on residence homesteads increased to 5 percent or a minimum of $5,000. Homestead property tax exemptions for people 65 and older and disabled persons increased to $125,000.

“I’m excited we were able to reduce the tax rate,” County Judge Bill Gravell said. “But I’m also excited to add some new positions that were needed. We’ve done some really quite brilliant things in the last few months.” 

The FY 2023 budget included the addition of 47 full-time positions and two part-time positions. It also calls for three part-time positions to transition to full-time. Increases to personnel include additional employees to open two new courts — 480th District Court and County Court-at-Law No. 5. It also includes EMS personnel to extend the Williamson County Jester Annex station operations from 12 hours a day to 24 hours a day.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said the budget reflects the court’s support of law enforcement. 

“The single biggest area of increase has been law enforcement,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long agreed. 

“I made a commitment some four years ago that I would support law enforcement,” Mr. Gravell said. “It is a big piece in what we do in county government. Sheriff [Mike Gleason], you have helped us get where we need to be.” 

Other items in the budget include $12.7 million in the General Fund budget for capital improvements, as well as $7 million for the county’s long-range transportation plan. 

The Road and Bridge Fund budget was set at $57,947,339 which allots $5 million for the long-range transportation plan and $6 million of a multi-year program to widen county roads. The budget also includes a 5 percent cost-of-living raise, a 3 percent merit increase for employees in these departments and the addition of eight new employees.

The Debt Service Fund budget will be $164,965,819 and includes $30 million to pay down debt early.  

“Paying down voter-approved debt early has been a priority of the commissioners court,” Ms. Covey said in a press release. “I am proud of our track record and for saving taxpayers $186.8 million in interest.” 

Mr. Gravell said he is “pleased and proud” of the budget.

“I want to say thank you to our department heads and elected officials,” he said last week. “You have worked hard with us to come up with a budget that is respectful, reasonable and prudent.” 

The Fiscal Year 2023 budget is available for residents to review on the Budget Office website, under the section titled “Budget Overview.” A hard copy of the recommended budget will be available at the County Clerk’s Office in the Justice Center located at 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Street, when it is filed no later than September 30.