DeWitt commissioners propose lower tax rate

Sonny Long

Aug. 6, 2013 at 3:06 a.m.

The DeWitt County Commissioners Court is proposing lowering the 2013 property tax rate, a move made possible by a continued increase in property values, which now top $5.5 billion.

The proposed rate of 46.937 cents per $100 in property valuation is less than the current rate of 50.203 cents per $100.

During Monday's meeting, County Tax Assessor/Collector Susie Dreyer told commissioners that appraised county property values are $5,524,136,440.

For tax calculation purposes, frozen homestead values are deducted from the appraised values, giving the county $5,404,354,472 in fully taxable property.

Including the frozen homestead taxes generated, the total revenue - if the proposed tax rate is adopted - should be more than $26 million.

County Judge Daryl Fowler noted that oil and gas activity in the county accounts for a significant amount of the increase in property values.

"One company, Burlington Resources (ConocoPhillips), has more taxable property on the 2013 tax roll than the total appraised value in the entire county only two years ago," Fowler said.

Of the proposed rate, 44.919 cents is for maintenance and operation and 2.018 cents is for debt service.

The commissioners court unanimously approved the proposed rate during Monday's special session.

Commissioners also conducted a budget workshop, with road repair and maintenance receiving much of the attention.

"The budget is still a work in progress," said Fowler. "During the workshop, we changed a few road and bridge appropriations to reflect the matching funds needed to access the state transportation grants and created a new department for information technology.

"The general structure of the proposed budget is to hold our maintenance and operations tax rate at the same rate as the last two budgets.

"We will lower the general fund rate and increase the tax rates on the three road and bridge funds to reflect our commitment to road and bridge efforts."

The proposed 2013-14 budget is $9,939,489.

Fowler also reported to the commissioners that DeWitt County's portion of the Texas Legislature's supplemental appropriation bill (HB 1025) that made $225 million available to counties affected by oil and gas exploration could be in the $5 million to $6 million range.

"That's a very rough estimate," he said. "The allocation is formula-driven."

Commissioners also discussed the need to adequately staff road and bridge departments and adding courthouse personnel to handle the increasing court dockets and the administration of the state grants.



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