County approves budget, tax rate

By Glenn Rea

The Cuero Record

Adoption of the tax rate and budget for this county was delayed by Hurricane Harvey two weeks ago. But it was approved this week and county officials also talked about recovery from Harvey.

For the sixth consecutive year, DeWitt County has held its property tax rate at 46.937¢ per $100 valuation.

In Monday’s commissioners court meeting, county officials approved a $32.9 million expense budget for the new fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. That compares to the $33.9 million expenses in the 2017 fiscal year.

The revenue portion anticipates $19.5 million will come taxes. The county plans to use $8.5 million from fund balances. The remainder will come various fees, grants and fines.

A break-down of the expenses shows the county will continue to concentrate the majority of its efforts on roads and bridges. Just over 58% of the budget or $19.2 million will go to transportation. That is almost the same amount that was targeted for roads in the 2017 budget.

The new budget will see 14.7% or $4.8 million for law enforcement, 7.3% or $2.4 million for judicial and probation departments, and 5.2% or $1.7 million for records and financial departments.

While planning this budget, the court emphasized more financial pressure has been placed on counties by the state and by the oil and gas industry. In the past three budgets, some of the revenue for road repair came from state grants. Those grants programs were repealed in the most recent Legislative session.

During the presentation on the tax rate and budget, it was noted the new tax rate is below the effective tax rate, a rate that would have generated the same amount of tax revenue as in the current fiscal year. Adopting the effective rate would have added $3.3 million to the tax revenue.

As it has been for the previous six budgets, oil and gas production is responsible for about 77% of the tax revenue. Only about 19% of the tax revenue is generated from real property.

The motion to adopt the budget was made by Commissioner James Pilchiek and the motion to adopt the tax rate was made by Commissioner Richard Randle. Both motions were approved unanimously.

Judge Daryl Fowler said the new budget continues a cost of living increase for county employees of 1.5% that was approved in the current fiscal year.

Information in the budget indicates there have been 2,635 new drill wells permits issued in this county from 2010 through July 31, 2017. Of that amount 1,651 oil and gas wells were completed. About 1,000 wells have been drilled but are not in production.

It has been estimated there are about 3,000 wells to be completed in this county.

Emergency Management Coordinator Cyndi Smith reported, “We have been notified that aerial spraying for mosquitoes may begin.”

She showed a county map showing the routes the low flying airplanes will use as they make numerous passes across the county.

“This will only assist with (controlling) mosquitoes not completely get rid of them. Please continue to use precautions when outdoors,” she said.

Mosquitoes are most active from dusk until dawn. However they are out at all times. Wear long sleeved light colored clothing and long pants. Use insect repellent when outdoors.

Dump any items outdoors that has water as this is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.this county.

She said the spraying will not harm animal or plant life.

DeWitt County Today

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