Despite some difficulties, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court finalized a projected budget funded by the effective tax rate of $0.4475 per $100 valuation for fiscal year 2020.
The commissioners met for the last of the budget workshops and a special session Aug. 1, where they finalized a $336.5 million budget for FY 2020.
Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae said based on the average taxable value of a home in the county at $219,227, the county property tax would be $981.04 a year. She said this is a savings of roughly $42 from the current tax rate of $0.4667.
“This is my first round to be able to work with each of you,” County Judge Mark Keough said to the commissioners. “Your hard work, it’s pretty amazing.”
However, the road to the end of the budget workshops had some speed bumps. Director of Information Technology Bobby Powell asked the commissioners for $2.04 million over a four-year period to replace the computer dispatch system for the sheriff’s office.
Powell said the system has reached the limit of its service, having been down 72 hours over the last four years. Powell said during these 72 hours, dispatchers likely took in approximately 5,000 calls and were forced to put those calls on paper by hand to keep track of them.
Keough and several commissioners expressed frustration at having such a large request made after they had given money to several departments for their needs the previous day.
“We have given to the sheriff’s office, to the district attorney’s office. We’ve given cars, people, boats, taken away from special interests,” Keough said. “And here we all coming up on the very end, and we’re just now hearing about this?”
The commissioners were able to fund the project by diverting $2 million from a voluntary pay-down for the Texas County & District Retirement System.
Although the commissioners came to an agreement, Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador originally said he was not happy they were transferring funds just to keep the tax rate low.
“I don’t want to risk our TCDRS; I don’t want to risk our bond rating by using too much fund balance money just to stay at an effective rate. I don’t think that’s good business,” Meador said.
Noack asked Montgomery County Budget Officer Amanda Carter to put large items such as this system earlier in the workshop next year.
“Let’s try to get some of these big-ticket things up at the top before we get all the way down at the bottom because that’s just a big hit,” Noack said.
The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the budget Aug. 13 and have to officially adopt the budget and tax rate Sept. 4.