Judge said growth, demand led to more needs
Gillespie County Commissioners announced a potential tax rate increase on Thursday, Sept. 12.
The rate for the 2018 tax year was 40.8 cents per $100 valuation and commissioners proposed to set the 2019 tax year rate at 41.25 cents per $100 valuation.
Commissioners will seek approval of the 2020 fiscal year budget during their regular commissioner’s court meeting at 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 23 at the Gillespie County Courthouse.
The proposed total budget expenditure is $40,450,443, $12 million of which is use for special funds, not day-to-day operations.
Daily expenses, including road and bridge maintenance, is set at $27,047,781.
The 2019 fiscal year total expenditures were $37,038,778.
Gillespie County Judge Mark Stroeher stated there is a $2 million proposed increase in revenue, which will be used to add 14 new job positions as well as help find several capital improvement projects.
Stroeher said some members of the community have expressed concern for the rate and budget increase but he is confident the changes will help the growing community.
“We sometimes get asked why we are proposing to increase the taxes but our county is growing and in order to keep up with the growth and provide the services the citizens expect, we sometimes need to increase the tax revenue,” he said.
Commissioners are proposing 14 new job positions for the upcoming fiscal year.
“This is a bunch of new positions for us and we wanted to hold off on some of them. But starting next year, the state is restricting our ability to generate the revenue we need to fund our budgets more than they do now, so we decided to add them now, otherwise it could be a while,” Stroeher said.
New proposed positions are as follows:
• County Court at Law Judge (Chris Nevins was appointed at the Aug. 28 meeting);
• County Court at Law court coordinator;
• Four new dispatch personnel for the Gillespie County Communications Department;
• Four new road hands (one per precinct);
• One new employee in the Information Technology department;
• A purchasing clerk in the County Auditor’s office;
• An assistant in the Human Resources department;
• One new employee in the Sanitation and Floodplain office.
“The new county court at law, will help me out a lot as I am doing a lot of judicial work and overseeing the commissioner’s court,” Stroeher said. “This will also lighten the load of the District Judge and make our court system more streamlined and efficient.”
Stroeher said adding dispatchers will help improve emergency call response time, more road hands will help improve county road projects with the growth the county is seeing.
Adding personnel in the IT department and HR department will allow for transitions of employees nearing retirement as well as direct focus to projects such as updating the personnel manual and working on other employee-related matters.
A purchasing clerk will likely help the county save money through bulk purchasing and a new employee in sanitation and floodplain has been in the plans for a few years.
“I think these new proposed positions will help our departments run more efficiently and help with better response times,” Stroeher said.
Other notable changes
Other major changes to the budget include capital improvement projects.
The Gillespie County Airport will begin Phase 2 of its capital improvement plan.
Around $2.2 million will be used for funding, 10% of which the county is responsible.
The new Gillespie County AgriLife Extension Office and Maintenance and Technology facility will likely be completed in fiscal year 2020, according to Stroeher.
With the offices being relocated, other county offices will be moved and possibly renovated.
Improvements will also be made at the county yards.
Stroeher said multiple members of the community expressed concerns on Thursday evening about the tax rate increase.
“We had about eight people who made comments and wanted to know why we had to increase taxes,” Stroeher said. “If we want to provide services they want, we have to do what is necessary and unfortunately, that means a slight tax increase.”
Stroeher noted that on tax statements, more often than not, county and city taxes do not attribute much to the big picture, but rather school district taxes.
The proposed budget can be found online at www.gillespiecounty.org.