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home : news : news November 25, 2015

8/29/2014 5:10:00 PM
JWC eyes tax rate 4 cents above effective rate
Property, sales tax losses leave budget shortfall of $800K
Jim Wells County Commissioners will be holding public hearings after taking a record vote Friday morning to consider going four cents above the effective 2014 property tax rate to help fund an estimated $800,000 shortfall in the Fiscal Year 2015 proposed budget.

This year's total effective tax rate for the county came in at $0.479849 per $100 property valuation, with $0.380598 going into the general fund, $0.064296 towards the farm to market/flood control fund and $0.034955 for the special road/bridge fund.

Last year's tax rate was $0.454430, a two-cent increase from the effective tax rate for 2013.

County Auditor Eladio "Lalo" Gonzalez presented the 2014 certified values to the court, along with the estimated sales tax for next year.

According to the 2014 certified values, the Jim Wells County general fund and lateral road fund showed a decrease of more than five percent from last year's net taxable values, with totals of about $2.405 billion for the year.

While real estate and commercial personal property values have continued to climb, the increase was not enough to offset the loss of nearly $176 million in industrial personal property values.

In the county's sales tax revenue, Gonzalez said the estimate for next year is expected to drop from about $5.6 million to a little under $4.8 million.

"So that's a net shortfall in our sales tax budget of a little over $800,000," he said.

Gonzalez said the FY 2015 proposed budget is based on the current rate of tax revenues, and does not include the estimated loss in sales tax revenue for next year.

"Those numbers need to be adjusted downward because of the loss in what we estimate in collections of sales tax," he said.

JWC Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Sidney Vela also spoke about the decrease in next year's certified values. He said as companies working in the
Eagle Ford Shale move industrial equipment out of the county, they can assume that the value will continue to drop.

Vela said because of the shortfall, the county may need to increase the tax rate given the expenses for the county next year, including the creation of the new county court at law.

He said every additional cent added to the effective tax rate would result in $240,740 in additional tax levy.

"So the only way to make that up is you have to cut your budget dramatically, or you have to raise the tax rate, or do a combination of the two," Vela said.
Vela said any increase to the effective tax rate requires at least two public hearings and a notice in the local newspapers.

Commissioner Pct. 3 Richard Miller asked for clarification regarding going above or below the proposed tax rate.

Vela said once the tax rate is advertised, they could not go above that rate.
Commissioner Pct. 4 Javier Garcia asked about the rollback tax rate, which would be the highest the court could adopt without being subject to a rollback election. Vela said the rollback tax rate was high this year at $0.559418.

"Which I don't think you're going to go near that," he said.
After some discussion, Commissioner Pct. 2 Ventura Garcia suggested that they go with the four-cent increase.

"Simply because we could always go down," he said. "There's no sense in going 47 or 48 cents and then you can't go up."

The court then took a unanimous record vote to propose the 2014 tax rate at $0.519849.
Commissioner Miller made the motion to adopt the proposed rate, with
Commissioner Javier Garcia giving the second. County Judge L. Arnoldo Saenz was not present for the meeting.

The first public hearing for the proposed tax rate is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sept. 3, followed by a second public hearing at 10 a.m. before the court's regular meeting on Sept. 8.

Budget Workshops for the FY 2015 proposed budget are scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 25, at 1 p.m.

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