UPDATE (10:15 A.M.) – Smith County commissioners approved Tuesday morning to lower the property tax rate and approve the 2021 fiscal year budget.

Both motions sailed unanimously on the five-person court. Judge Nathaniel Moran and other members commended those that worked on the proposals in a challenging time during the pandemic.

The budget is about $14 million less than 2020 due to cuts having to be made due to coronavirus expenses.

The court voted to lower the property tax rate from 34.5 cents per $100 down to 33.5 cents. Moran said that while they were happy with the move, it’s “not something we can do every year.”

The tax rate for Smith County was already one of the lowest in the state before the vote. It is currently the 12th lowest across Texas out of 254 counties.

A separate vote was held because despite the lowering of the tax rate, the county will actually take in more money from property taxes next year. Moran said that this was due to new property being developed that will bring in new revenue.

The court also received a briefing from the county’s Coronavirus Relief Fund Task Force. Smith County received more than $5 million from the CARES Act.

Of the available funds, roughly $1.3 million of the money has been spent. The vast majority of what has been spent has gone toward labs and the purchase of Fire Station #1 from the City of Tyler.

The county made the purchase for COVID-19 relief and the storage of PPE equipment. The task force made several recommendations for future projects with the money. They included: overtime payment for jailers ($500k), fire station renovation ($175k), and remote juries ($35k).

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – If you own property in Smith County, your tax rates could be going down.

On Tuesday morning, commissioners are set to vote on the proposed tax rate and budget for 2021. The meeting is set to being at 9:30 a.m.

The new plan would drop the property tax rate by one cent from 34.5 cents per $100 to 33.5 cents and delay the bond election for a new courthouse.

It would also take $2.2 million from the road and bridge department to support continued maintenance. The proposal also includes a plan to reduce the number of county employees.

Also on the agenda for Tuesday is a briefing regarding the status of the Coronavirus Relief Fund that was given to the county through the CARES Act.

More than $5 million was made available through the bill.

The money was revealed last week and can only be spent on direct coronavirus expenses. The first 20%, about 1.07 million, was made available immediately.

The other 80% of $4.3 million, he explained, came as a reimbursement like any other grant from the state. The county has until December 30 to use the money.

The task force that is tasked with a spending plan was made up of the following officials:

  • Fire Marshal Jay Brooks
  • Chief Deputy Jimmy Jackson
  • Purchasing Agent Christina Haney
  • Auditor Heather Foster

Moran said last week that the county has been keeping a detailed list of county expenses. It is unclear, according to Moran, whether the state or the federal government would receive the money back if left unused.

KETK News will be monitoring the meeting and will update this story as it takes place.