Arriving at a suitable tax rate and final annual budget can be a challenging task, but the process for the Somervell County commissioners was relatively smooth this time around, according to County Judge Danny Chambers.
By a 5-0 vote in their Sept. 23 meeting, commissioners approved the budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. In the same meeting, they also approved an increase in the new tax rate, which will provide raises for county employees.
The process was wrapped up with a week to spare before the official Oct. 1 deadline, and the increased tax rate will provide county employees with raises that had first been discussed a couple of years ago.
The county tax rate for 2018-19 was $0.48923200 cents per $100 of property tax valuation.
Chambers told the Glen Rose Reporter that the tax rate will go “up almost 4 cents,” to $0.5375 cents per $100 valuation.
The previous tax rate, for the 2018-19 budget, was 0.48923200 cents per $100 of property tax valuation.
The Somervell County tax rate order document states:
“This tax rate of $0.5375 per $100 valuation will raise more taxes ($955,992) for maintenance and operations than last year’s tax rate.
“The tax rate will raise (reduce) taxes for maintenance and operations on a $100,000 home by approximately $48.27.”
Chambers told the Glen Rose Reporter, “We worked very hard this time to get the pay grade and scale (increase) for our employees comparable to surrounding areas. That’s the hardest thing we did this year. Every elected official and department head did everything they could, and they did a great job trimming and cutting everything they possibly could. I feel good with the process, and with the commissioners court and I’m glad it’s done.”
As for the pay raises, Chambers said that in 2017 the Commissioners Court had considered elected officials as well as hourly employees, but noted, “This time we only focused on employees — no elected officials. We were really a little bit behind the curve. We had looked at it in 2017.”
Chambers indicated that the raises were necessary, stating, “To be competitive and be able to hire competent employees, we had to take a long, hard look at that. Overall, the procedure went very well.”
In January, commissioners voted (5-0) to approve having a salary survey of surrounding counties done every two years.
Because Somervell County’s population has grown, a state mandate requires that — for the first time ever — the position of district clerk be separated from the position of county clerk. Michelle Reynolds has been serving as both the district clerk and county clerk, but that will soon change.
After Nov. 1 the two district judges serving Somervell County, John Neill and Wayne Bridewell, will appoint a new person to serve as district clerk until the next election.
Reynolds will retain her position as county clerk. Both district and county clerk are elected positions.