County adopts budget, tax rate

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Burnet County commissioners adopted a proposed $29.92 million budget for fiscal year 2020 and set an overall tax rate of 39.99 cents per $100 valuation at their regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 10.

The passage of the budget and tax rate came after Burnet County held two public hearings in August. No public comments were made at any of the hearings or at Tuesday's meeting at the Burnet County Courthouse.

The new tax rate is 0.99 cents more than the preceding year's tax rate of 39 cents per $100 valuation and more than 2 cents higher than the effective tax rate of 37.06 cents, which would generate the same amount of tax revenue as last year.

Burnet County officials projected they will receive an additional $2,030,360 in tax revenue in fiscal year 2020 from the new tax rate, which would be an increase of 8.5 percent, which includes $858,194 coming from new construction added to the tax roll.

The proposed budget includes a nearly $23.2 million general fund budget, a $3.62 million road and bridge fund budget and a $3.1 million debt service budget.

Highlights of the budget include a minimum 2 percent salary increase for all county employees, as well as extra longevity pay for Burnet County Sheriff's Office employees and extra pay hikes for the district judges, district attorney, county attorney, constables, county court at law judge, county judge and commissioners.

The county is also budgeting a $2.53 million transfer from the general fund to jail operations to help pay for expenses — up from $2.46 million in fiscal year 2019 — as the county is projecting to take in $476,000 less for housing inmates in fiscal year 2020.

Meanwhile, commissioners are also following through on a proposal to lower the amount of funding they send to volunteer fire departments that are part of an emergency service district. Funding has been completely removed from the budget for Burnet Fire Department and the now-defunct Briggs VFD.

Funding has been cut in half from $23,337 to $11,668.50 for Bertram VFD, Burnet VFD, Cassie VFD, East Lake Buchanan VFD, Granite Shoals VFD, Marble Falls Area VFD, Oakalla VFD and Spicewood VFD. Cottonwood Shores VFD and Hoover Valley VFD, both of which do not have an emergency services district, will continue to receive $23,337 each in the proposed budget.

The county would continue to pay $43,776 for the departments' radio subscription fees as part of the Western County Tower System.

The general fund budget being proposed is balanced, with $23,182,268.57 in revenues and expenditures projected (including nearly $4.58 million in transfers from the general fund to the inmate housing, indigent health care and library funds).

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