For second straight year, Travis County adopts higher property tax rate for budget

Travis County Administration Building
Travis County commissioners voted Sept. 29 to adopt the county's fiscal year 2020-21 budget. (Community Impact staff)

Travis County commissioners voted Sept. 29 to adopt the county's fiscal year 2020-21 budget. (Community Impact staff)

Following a budget process that local officials say began in February before slogging through the coronavirus pandemic, Travis County will enter fiscal year 2020-21 with a higher property tax rate than in the previous year.

On Sept. 29, Travis County Commissioners Court approved the county’s budget and property tax rates for FY 2020-21. According to budget documents on the Travis County website, the total budget will rise to $1.29 billion, an increase of more than $80 million over last year’s budget.

Commissioner Gerald Daugherty was the lone dissenting vote for the adoption of the budget and tax rate.

The county’s general fund totals $945.04 million in FY 2020-21, a 7.07% year-over-year increase for the general fund.

According to numbers provided by Hector Nieto, Travis County public information officer, the county’s expenditures for ongoing funds, which includes expenses for departments such as public safety and health and human services, rose by just $3.89 million—up to $715.25 million—for FY 2020-21.


“My understanding is this is a very small increase in the [ongoing] fund,” Commissioner Brigid Shea said.

Travis County Budget Director Travis Gatlin told commissioners Sept. 29 that the increase in the ongoing funds budget was the lowest year-over-year percentage increase he had observed when researching the past two decades of budget documents. According to Travis County budget numbers, $715.25 million allocated for ongoing funds is a 0.5% increase from the previous year’s budget.

In order to fund the budget increase for FY 2020-21, Travis County commissioners approved a total tax rate of $0.374359 per $100 valuation, a 1.4% increase over last year’s tax rate, according to county budget documents.

This is the second straight year that Travis County has increased its property tax rate, historical budget documents show.

Under the new tax rate, in FY 2020-21, the average taxable Travis County property valued at $355,379 will be levied $1,330.39 in property taxes, according to the county.


OTHER NOTES


CENTRAL HEALTH BUDGET APPROVED BY COUNTY

Commissioners voted Sept. 29 to approve the FY 2020-21 property tax rate and budget for Central Health, Travis County’s health care district.

As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, next year’s budget for Central Health includes a $20 million increase in health care delivery services, including dental care and behavioral health services.

The adopted FY 2020-21 total tax rate of $0.110306 per $100 valuation is a 6.9% increase over the effective rate, or the rate Central Health would have to set if its budget were to remain flat.

HALF-MILLION RELEASED FOR NONPROFIT GRANT PROGRAM

Nonprofit organizations may now apply for grants from the Travis County Health and Human Services Department for reimbursement of costs incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The TCTX Serve grant program, funded by Travis County’s Coronavirus Relief Fund package, will release up to $560,000 in grants to eligible organizations.

Lawrence Lyman, division director of Research and Planning for Travis County’s Health and Human Services Department, told commissioners that an emphasis will be placed on organizations that direct social services to ZIP codes that are “most vulnerable or most impacted by to COVID-19.”

The program will award a maximum grant of $50,000, and all funds must be spent by the end of December 2020.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.