The court also set the county's property tax rate at $0.459029 per $100 in taxable value.
The $364.5 million total includes: $212,758,329.41 for the general fund; $111,064,745 for debt service; and $40,812,343.84 for roads and bridges.
The general fund budget swelled by $27.5 million from the recommended $185,246,572 to $212,758,329.41 after the court added several line items during budget discussions to include 16 additional new full-time positions, new voting machines and technology upgrades, among other additions.
The roads and bridges budget increased $4 million—from $36,726,935 to $40,812,343.84—and the debt service budget, which covers repayments of debt associated with roads, parks and other capital improvements, increased $3.7 million—from $107,366,640 to $111,064,745—from the county's initial recommended budget.
The court held two budget sessions and a public hearing before making taking a final vote.
“These are the essential needs of the county,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long said. “They are capital needs and in lots of different [county departments].”
Williamson County Budget Officer Ashlie Koenig said the court was able to lower the tax rate even while increasing the budget as increasing property values are expected to allow the county to bring in more tax revenue.
Williamson County will end the fiscal year with an estimated $97.3 million in uncommitted general fund cash reserves and $21.2 million in road and bridge fund uncommitted cash reserves, according to First Assistant County Auditor Julie Kiley.
Even with the budget additions, the court voter to reduce the tax rate by three-quarters of a cent from the proposed maximum rate of $0.466529 per $100 of taxable valuation set in July.
County Judge Dan Gattis said from the start of the budget process that he would like to lower the tax rate by at least one cent. However, after evaluating the needs of the county, Gattis joined the rest of the court in a compromise on a three-quarter cent reduction.
“It’s a balancing act up here [on the Commissioners Court] and it's difficult with the needs that [the county] has with growth,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said after the final vote was taken.
With the rate set at $0.4590 per $100 in value, the average Williamson County homeowner will pay about $4.25 more in taxes per $100,000 in taxable home value, Commissioner Covey said.
The tax rate breakdown per $100 in taxable value is:
- Maintenance and operations: $0.2515
- Interest and shrinking: $0.1675
- Road and Bridge: $0.0400
While the maintenance and operations tax rate was lowered by a three-quarter cent than what was initially proposed, the debt service and road and bridge tax rates remained the same as the rate in FY 2017-18.
Additions made to the recommended budget:
- Upgraded the administration specialist position from part time to full time in veteran services: $27,083.55 (budget session 1)
- Increased the janitorial contract: $500,000 (budget session1)
- Approved a nondepartmental increase for county lawsuits: $100,000 (budget session1)
- Added an emergency services dispatch: $730,000 (budget session1)
- Added a programming specialist in wireless communications: $80,431 (budget session1)
- Added a system support specialist in Information Technology: $68,297.01 (budget session1)
- Upgraded the position of deputy district clerk II from part time to full time: $37,714.02 (budget session1)
- EMS/Round Rock Bay: $120,000 (budget session1)
- Moved the funding for two MOT FTEs from the Tabaco Fund: $149,899.68 (budget session 2)
- Approved new voting machines: $4.5 million (budget session 2)
- Added eight sheriff’s office patrol deputies: $1,345,259.28 (budget session 2)
- Added two School Resource Officers for Round Rock ISD through the Sheriff’s Office: $359,417.36 (budget session 2)
- Environmental sanitation: $64,149.73 (budget session 2)
- Added a lead victim assistance coordinator for the District Attorney’s Office: $71,704 (budget session 2)
- Added a child abuse intake assistance coordinator for the District Attorney’s Office: $130,950.94 (budget session 2)
- Added position for county director of administration:$136,351 (budget discussion Aug. 28)
- Added position for financial manager in the Sheriff’s Office: $42,500 (budget discussion Aug. 28)
- Additional radios for Sheriff’s Office:$48,000 (budget discussion Aug. 28)
- Long-term transportation plan in general fund: $7 million (budget discussion Aug. 28)
- Capital improvements: $12 million (budget discussion Aug. 28)
Correction: The initial story incorrectly stated the debt service budget was $11,064,745. The correct debt service budget was $111,064,745. Also, the tax rate was stated to be $0.4590 per $100 in value instead of $0.459029 per $100 in value.