TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The Smith County Commissioners Court voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the 2023 budget and tax rate.
The new tax rate, which takes effect on Oct. 1, will effectively lower the tax rate from 33.5 cents to 33 cents per $100 valuation. The new rate is about 3.3 cents below the Voter Approval Rate of 36.3047 cents, and about 3.1 cents above the No New Revenue Rate of 29.8786 cents.
The budget focuses on four areas:
- The new 475th District Court
- Law enforcement staffing
- Road and bridge funding
- Increases to Judicial Support Services and Clerk Pay Scale
The approved budget and tax rate will go into effect on Oct. 1, the start of the county’s new fiscal year.
The budget is themed “Stay the Course”, which is supposed to highlight “the County’s dedication to long-term strategic planning and steady, consistent financial planning,” according to a press release.
“I am proud that during just the past three fiscal cycles, the County has reduced the property tax rate from 34.5 cents to 33 cents, and proud that I will be able to end my term as County Judge at the same property tax rate as when I started as County Judge in 2016, all the while significantly increasing needed funding for roads and bridges, law enforcement, and our judicial system along the way,” Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said.
Major items in the budget include:
- Creation of a new District Court
- The creation of the 475th District Court will go into effect in January 2023, which will include roughly $1.5 million in new expenses related to additional personnel and operating costs.
- Roads and bridges
- The county is continuing to increase the amount of property tax revenue that goes to road and bridge department activities. They’ve sought to increase that amount every year for the past four years. They will also transfer $11 million in fiscal year 2023 from its general fund reserves tot he Road and Bridge fund to supplement the $45 million in bonds that were approved by voters in 2021.
- Investments in county employees
- All employees, apart from elected officials, have been provided a 5% cost of living increase in their salary. Some additional increases have been provided above 5%, including for those in judicial support services positions, those on a clerk pay scale and workers in the Road and Bridge Department based on skill proficiency with certain equipment.
- Law enforcement staffing
- For 2023, the focus is on the law enforcement side of the sheriff’s office, and the budget adds five patrol deputies, a digital forensic technician, a training deputy, and a part-time training assistant. It also reclassifies a crime scene technician to a criminalist position.
A full copy of the budget is attached below: