SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) Smith County residents you may see a slightly lower tax rate next year.
On Friday, Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran filed the 2021 proposed budget, which drops the tax rate by a full penny from the current fiscal year in an effort to provide tax relief to property owners during the ongoing pandemic.
The proposal would seek to lower the property tax rate from 34.5 cents per $100 valuation to 33.5 cents per $100 valuation, meaning the county would take in less revenue from property taxes next year.
“Cutting property taxes below the no-new-revenue rate is a rarity with governmental entities, and it is especially so during this time when the County’s property tax rate is already among one of the lowest in Texas and its other sources of revenue such as sales tax revenue, fines and fees, and interest are decreasing significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”Nathaniel Moran, Smith County Judge
Starting in June, Commissioners Court held many budget workshops to discuss this issue and receive input from the public.
Going forward, there will be additional public meetings before adopting the final dead on August 25. Fiscal year 2021 goes into effect on October 1.
According to county officials, the proposed budget, among other things:
- Delays the previously planned bond election for a new Courthouse, originally planned for November 2020;
- Transfers $1.8 million from the Capital Improvement Projects Fund to the General Fund to cover the decreases in revenue;
- Uses $2.2 million from the Road and Bridge Department Fund Reserves to support continued FY 2021 Road and Bridge maintenance and operations to ensure that the priority on infrastructure is not affected;
- Cuts a number of general operating expenses under local control;
- Reduces fleet expenditures from $1.2 million to under $400,000; and
- Reduces the number of total employees in the County, by eliminating a variety of positions, while reclassifying other positions to cover new needs in the Sheriff’s Office and Office of the District Attorney.
“Because of these deep cuts and delayed capital improvement needs, next year’s budget will likewise be challenging, but experience has shown that the cuts we made this year will help us better face those challenges next year,” Judge Moran said. “My hope is that the economy will rebound in short fashion and we can return to normal in a manner consistent with the continued dedication to sound fiscal policy and transparency that have been our hallmarks for several years.”