Burnet County proposes $36.87 million budget

By Lew K. Cohn
Managing Editor •

 Burnet County commissioners have proposed a budget of $36.87 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

The county will hold public hearings on the proposed budget at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28, and at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5. Commissioners will then vote to adopt a tax rate and budget at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

The new budget is built on a tax rate of 39 cents per $100 valuation, which represents a 0.69-cent decrease from the fiscal year 2018 tax rate of 39.69 cents per $100 valuation. The tax rate is decreasing by 1.74 percent, though individual taxes may vary based upon changes in property valuation as assessed by the Burnet Central Appraisal District.

The proposed fiscal year 2019 budget calls for a $1.19 million decrease overall from just under $38.1 million this year, a decrease of about 3.13 percent.

The proposed budget calls for a $210,530, or 1.15 percent increase, in general fund expenditures from $18.32 million this year to $18.53 million next year, while also projecting an increase of $702,697 in debt service, from just under $2 million this year to $2.7 million in fiscal 2019.

Each road and bridge precinct is expecting an increase in funding. The budget for Precinct 2, the largest precinct in terms of road miles, is expected to increase by almost $82,500 to $995,740. The budget for Precinct 3, the smallest in terms of road miles, is expected to increase by $64,780 to $761,304.

Precinct 1's budget will increase $84,280 to $879,329 while Precinct 4's budget will increase the most, going up $125,495, or 18.13 percent, to $817,613.

However, due to an increase in jail population, the county jail is projecting a budget expenditure decrease of nearly $2.17 million, from $10.65 million this fiscal year to $8.48 million in fiscal year 2019. This is a decrease of more than 20 percent in jail costs.

Earlier this week, the 587-bed Burnet County Jail had a population of 553 inmates, of which a large number were federal detainees for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), for which the county receives a contracted amount per day per inmate.

County Judge James Oakley and County Auditor Karen Hardin previously have explained once the jail reaches a certain inmate count, the cost of nearly all jail operations for the county is absorbed by contract payments received by the county for housing inmates from other jurisdictions.

Burnet County's certified tax roll has a total taxable value of more than $6.4 billion, which includes just under $1.4 billion in property owned by individuals age 65 or older and $23 million in property under protest, leaving a net taxable value of just under $5.02 billion.

According to the county's taxation notice, the proposed budget will raise $2,289,113 more in total property taxes than last year's budget, an increase of 10.66 percent, due to an increase in overall taxabale value for the county. Of that amount, $729,831 is tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year.

Send Lew K. Kohn a note at lew@highlandernews.com.

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