Pending County Tax Increase Weighs Heavily on Judge Steve Floyd's Heart
SAN ANGELO, TX — For Tom Green County Judge Steve Floyd, the idea of the county having to increase property taxes on his constituents troubles him. News of a shortfall at the county reached the media after the weekly commissioners’ court meeting Aug. 1.
At that meeting, Precinct One Commissioner Ralph Hoelscher read a list of 12 reasons the county had to increase property taxes. Hoelscher speaks in a “matter-of-fact” way, and used the term “bankruptcy” to describe the county’s dire straits for not having enough revenue to handle state-mandated expenses. Among them, Hoelscher said, are the skyrocketing costs of murder trials and cuts in state funding.
Tom Green County is paying for at least two capital murder trials next fiscal year. The first is scheduled for the end of October.
At the Aug. 1 meeting, Tom Green County Commissioners voted to raise property taxes in FY 2018 no more than three cents more than the 2017 tax rate, triggering two public hearings this month. The first public hearing will be Aug. 15 at 9 a.m. The second is scheduled for Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the county commissioners’ court chambers upstairs in the Edd B. Keyes building, 113 W. Beauregard Ave.
The current county tax rate is $0.51250 per $100 in property valuation. The proposed rate can push the rate as high as $0.54250. For the owner of a $200,000 home, the tax rate itself will increase the tax bill from $1,025 to $1,085 annually. This does not include the tax bill increase caused by higher property value appraisals, where many county residents complain.
Details on the FY 2018 proposed county budget as well as historical budgets from FY 2017 and prior can be found on the Tom Green County website here.
Judge Steve Floyd, a Republican, branded himself as a staunch budget hawk during and after his campaign for election in 2014. In Texas, the county judge is akin to the position of mayor for the county. The idea of raising taxes weighs heavily on his mind, as he revealed in an open letter to Tom Green County taxpayers Aug. 4. He used Facebook to broadcast his message. It read:
Taxpayers, Friends and Family, I am not a social media person and this page was used for campaign purposes. That said, I wanted to post so my position as County Judge is as clear and unfiltered by the media as I can.
None of us like property taxes. Of course we do not like sales or income tax either. County duties are mandated by the state with optional functions evolving from our citizens wishes over decades. Property taxes are the primary funding method provided for counties by our constitution for over 140 years. The other methods are decided in Austin by the legislature,
I, along with the other 26 elected officials in this county, take an oath. That is to uphold the laws and perform the duties of the office. The Commissioners Court budgeting process is to provide them with the resources to perform those duties.
The criminal justice system has become socialized over the last 15 years. It started with the Indigent Defense Act. Over 95 percent of the cost in Tom Green County is with taxpayer money. We are frustrated that the funding stream established by the state to cover these mandates become unfunded or under-funded because the formula is insufficient or appropriations are reduced. These cost are then shifted down to Tom Green County taxpayers, and that is where I get defensive.
We have scheduled two public hearing this year. For the first time, one is scheduled after business hours to share information and provide for citizen input. They are posted. I sincerely welcome you to attend either session and question anything. Proposed budgets and rates are posted, the final votes on the budget and tax rate will not occur until late this month.
Tom Green County Judge
If you are interested in attending:
Tom Green County Commissioners Court will hold a Public Hearing to discuss the proposed 2018 tax rate for Tom Green County on Tuesday, Aug 15 at 9:30 a.m. and again on Friday, Aug. 18 at 6:00 p.m.
Commissioners Court is held on the second floor of the Edd B & Frances Frink Keyes Building, 113 W. Beauregard. These hearings will be live streamed that may be accessed from the Tom Green County homepage or the direct link is http://tomgreencotx.boardsync.com/Web/Home.aspx , simply select the correct date and time.
If you are unable to attend in person, we welcome you to email questions you would like to have addressed during the live hearings to [email protected] .
The citizens attending will be on the record and have first priority. If your question has not been addressed, we will respond as time permits.
If your question is for a specific individual please state in your email. We thank you in advance for your participation and look forward to hearing from our county residents next week.