The Williamson County Commissioners Court voted Aug. 30 to adopt a $505 million budget for the fiscal year 2022-23, which includes $5 million for 47 new full-time positions.

The county commissioners also set the tax rate of $0.375608 per $100 valuation, an amount that is 6.5 cents less than the county’s current total tax rate. This rate will decrease property taxes on the average homestead residence by approximately $100 next year.

“My main goal during this budget process was to be able to provide property tax relief to our Williamson County residents. This tax rate does just that, while the budget addresses all of our most essential needs, especially in the area of public safety,” County Judge Bill Gravell said.

Here are other highlights from the FY 2022-23 budget:

  • Add two new courts—County Court at Law No. 5, and 480th District Court—for a cost of roughly $1 million, county budget officer Ashlie R. Holladay said.

  • Expand the hours of the county Jester Annex station, located at 1781 and 1801 E. Old Settlers Blvd., Round Rock, from 12 to 24 hours a day. EMS personnel will extend the Williamson operations starting Jan. 1 to help out with the call volume in Round Rock. The allowance of under $1 million in the budget will fund a lieutenant as well as five paramedics in the 24 hour shift, Holladay said.

  • Add $12.7 million for capital improvements and $7 million to the county’s long-range transportation plan. Additionally, the budget includes $1.75 million for either capital improvements or the long-range transportation plan that commissioners will decide in the following months.

  • Set the FY 2022-23 Road and Bridge Fund budget at $57,947,339, which includes $5 million for the long-range transportation plan and $6 million for a multi-year program to address sub-standard width roadways and widen county roads.

  • Upgrade of 234 cameras in jails, spend $528,000 on network security enhancements and $564,000 for car and body-worn cameras for law enforcement.

  • Increase pay for law enforcement for a cost of $4.3 million. Law enforcement and corrections will receive step increases to their salary charts of between 2% and 2.5% as well as a 5% cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, increase. The court approved a 5% COLA increase and 3% merit increase for civilian employees.

  • Increase in property tax exemptions for all residential homesteads in the county. The percentage-based exemption for ad valorem taxes on residence homesteads increased to 5% or a minimum of $5,000. Homestead property tax exemptions for people 65 and older and disabled persons increased to $125,000.

  • Set the FY 2022-23 Debt Service Fund budget at $164,965,819, including $30 million for debt defeasance to pay down debt early.

“The growth in Williamson County drives the need for more courts and more EMS personnel and more services in general. Despite inflation and supply chain challenges, we have accomplished our budget with a reduction in the tax rate without compromising our abilities to provide county services,” Commissioner Precinct 1 Terry Cook said.