Travis County officials predict tax rate increase for 2013 budget

Travis County officials are predicting that the county's tax rate may rise from 48.55 cents to 49.79 cents per $100 of property valuation.

On July 24, the Travis County Commissioners Court received a revision to the third of five revenue estimates it will receive before passing its fiscal year 2013 budget.

Budget Director Leroy Nellis told the court that the county will receive less revenue because its property tax rebate with Samsung has increased. Officials plan to make up for the loss by reducing the county's allocated and unallocated reserves and capital expenditures.

David Young, with the Travis County Auditor's Office, said the county is expecting to have general fund revenues below $467 million in fiscal year 2013.

In a letter dated July 24, County Auditor Susan Spataro wrote that the county is expecting to collect $404.87 million in taxes.

That amount is $17.72 million more than the fiscal year 2012 forecast and $7.5 million more than the second revenue estimate for fiscal year 2013.

Spataro wrote that the total increase comes from rising appraisal values, new construction and a higher proposed tax rate.

The increase over the previous estimate comes from the county's expectation that more of the tax-paying population will pay taxes in fiscal year 2013 than in 2012, she wrote.

Young said that in 2012, the county collected taxes from 96 percent of taxpayers. The county estimates it will be able to collect from 97.5 percent of taxpayers next year.

"In response to the struggles of the U.S. economy over the last few years, we have been very conservative in our projections of the property tax collection rate," Spataro wrote. "We feel that the updated FY2013 collection rate is representative of the current economic outlook, while still being conservative."

The new revenue estimate does not include recently passed increases in the over-65 and disabled property tax exemption or the county's new historic property tax exemption policy.

County officials expect to get their fourth revenue estimate prior to the last week in August. The fifth estimate is expected in mid-September.


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