Tax rate up for debate as county forms budget plan

Julye Keeble

Staff writer

When Uvalde County Commissioners turned their attention to tax planning for the 2020-2021 fiscal year on Monday, auditor Alice Chapman indicated the county should not need to raise the tax rate by more than 3.5 percent, the new cap on how much taxes may be raised by before triggering an election.

The 2019-2020 tax rate of  75.08 cents included 52.57 cents per $100 valuation for the general fund; 9.01 cents for the debt service fund; and 13.50 cents per $100 valuation for the road/bridge fund.

Commissioners expect to adopt a final budget by the end of August.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Ronald Garza asked about new tax guidelines being implemented as of this year.

“If we increase taxes beyond 3.5 percent then it goes to the voters?” Garza asked. Chapman said that is correct, but she doesn’t believe that will happen.

“The county judge has essentially told me we won’t do that. He is the county budget officer,” Chapman said.

According to the tax planning calendar Chapman presented, a second draft of the 2020-2021 county budget will be offered at the next commissioners’ court meeting on July 13 and subsequently be posted, as the first draft of the budget is, on the county website at www.uvaldecounty.com under the “Truth in Taxation” tab.

Uvalde County Appraisal District chief appraiser Roberto Valdez is expected to certify the tax roll appraisal before the end of July, and certify the final tax roll by Aug. 1.

At the Aug. 10 commissioners’ meeting, Chapman will present the calculated tax rates, and at the Aug. 24 meeting the final budget is expected to be adopted.

A public hearing on the final budget is also scheduled for the Aug. 24 meeting, though Chapman said it is no longer required unless the cap is exceeded.

“The 2020-21 tax planning calendar does look somewhat different that what you had in the past. Because of the 3.5 percent cap, which leads to an automatic election, technically there is not even a public hearing required if we don’t adopt anything equal to or higher than the no-new-revenue tax rate,” Chapman said.

She added that, as the court traditionally requests public input, they were including the hearing.

At the April 28 meeting, commissioners considered a first draft of the 2020-2021 budget, which at that point was $3,751,946 less than the initially approved budget for last fiscal year. The draft version had proposed total expenses and income of $29,240,511; and total income and expenses for the general fund of $15,983,859. The April draft budget included estimated general tax revenues of $9,671,573.

Chapman, who said the auditor’s office had been calculating county tax rates for more than 20 years, was formally designated to do so at the meeting, as required by new legislation which went into effect on a staggered basis, starting in January of 2020. She will calculate the no-new-revenue tax rate, previously called the effective rate, and voter-approval tax rate, formerly called the rollback rate, according to Texas Tax Code 26.17 and 26.04.

Senate Bill 2, the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019, was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 12, 2019.

The bill makes changes to the property tax and appraisal systems, which has altered procedures for counties preparing 2021 budgets, and the bill also introduces new terms and formulas.

Pct. 1 commissioner Randy Scheide was not present at the meeting, which was held on Zoom teleconference and broadcast on the county judge’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCvLuRwo3D1n_PON0tgzXbQw.



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