Denton County commissioners are proposing a budget of nearly $336.91 million for fiscal year 2021-22, which amounts to a 5.66% increase over the current year.

As part of that budget, commissioners also are proposing a property tax rate of $0.233086 per $100 assessed value. The current rate is $0.224985.

Using the average home value in Denton County of $359,651, the proposed tax rate would cost an extra $29.14 per year, according to the county.

“We believe it is important to focus on roads, mental health, and our law enforcement and judicial system while at the same time ensuring continuity of services to the public by supporting employees,” County Judge Andy Eads said in an Aug. 10 news release. “During this past year, all of us have faced many challenges, but as our population nears the 1 million mark, we must look forward to prepare for the future.”

The current estimated population is 933,220, according to the county.

Public hearings for the proposed budget and tax rate are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sept. 14 and Sept. 21. A vote is set for Sept. 21.

The proposed budget includes a 3% cost of living adjustment, a shift in the pay scale to better meet market conditions and salary adjustments for current employees as well as the addition of 52.5 new county positions. Among those are 14 positions to staff the newly created district court and probate court. The two courts will open Jan. 1 to help handle the growing caseloads, according to county officials.

County officials have also recommended spending nearly $4 million more for the coming year on road maintenance and improvements.

The proposal also includes about $3.8 million more for law enforcement, including the creation of a human trafficking unit.

Increased spending is also planned in mental health and public health, according to the proposal.

All told, the budget has about $18 million more in expenses than the current fiscal year’s budget.

“That $18 million increase will eventually save the taxpayer down the road,” Commissioner Ron Marchant said at the Aug. 10 meeting.

Separate from the budget are the federal relief funds the county has been allocated in connection with the pandemic. The county had distributed the $147.73 million it received in CARES Act funding, according to an Aug. 10 presentation.

Officials are still deciding what to do with the more than $172 million allocated to Denton County as part of the federal American Rescue Plan. The county also expects to be reimbursed nearly $4.3 million for its vaccine clinic operations and as well as about $133,556 related to the winter weather emergency.

The county also has more than $25 million in emergency rental assistance grant money that has yet to be allocated, according to the Aug. 10 presentation.