The County Commission unanimously advanced a plan to up the rate 16.4 percent – from $0.497794 to $0.579454 per $100 of value.
Compounding that increase with a 3.37 percent average rise in taxable values, the average county tax bill would climb from $591.34 last year to $711.55 in 2020.
Including new property, the county stands to collect $2,112,932 more property tax revenue, an 8.21 percent increase over 2019.
The proposed rate is a bare $0.000001 under the $0.579455 threshold that could trigger a tax election of the voters.
To maintain current revenue levels, Atascosa would have to drop its rate to $0.552995.
Commissioners will conduct three public hearings on the proposal Sept. 14, 17 and 21. The commission will vote after the third public hearing. All meetings will be at 9 a.m. at the County Courthouse, Suite 206, 1 Courthouse Circle Drive in Jourdanton.
Meetings are also live-streamed on Facebook.
“We are only required to have one public hearing but we wanted to give additional opportunities for the public to attend,” County Auditor Tracy Barrera told the News in an email.
Atascosa County Judge Hurley was not available for comment, but did state the following in an online press release Sept 11, explaining the dilemma they are facing as a county.
“If you have been following our many posted, public, open budget meetings the last two months you would know that Atascosa County has been facing a severe 2021 Fiscal Year budget dilemma. Our sales tax revenue is projected to be down this year over $3,000,000 (3M) and the appraisal district gave Atascosa a reduced ad valorem inventory value of over – $400,000,000 (400M). What a reduced ad valorem level does is force up the effective tax rate (“no new tax rate”) which in effect raises taxes. What the design of this rate does is to create a rate at which the same number of dollars are created as in the previous (existing) year which the budget is written in for the coming fiscal year. When the values go down (which we have no control over) the “no new tax rate” goes up. This same thing happened in 2015 when the oil field crashed, and we had a terrible time developing a budget.”
“What we have done is cut, cut and cut more in all our budget meetings. I have included the commissioners in the process from the beginning of the budget process for this year because I knew it was going to be difficult. We have taken several steps to address the problem. We have already frozen hiring for the rest of this year and the next. Our goal is to temporarily cut 12 employees, by attrition, from the county payroll which would be a savings of over $550,000. For 2021, the commissioners have cut over $2,000,000 from their road and bridge budgets. We have pressed all other departments to cut wherever possible and we have realized another $1,000,000 or more from that effort. The employees will forgo any raises in pay or benefits for 2021 because of the economic difficulty. When many other counties are going as much as an 8% increase over the “no new tax rate” Atascosa County is holding our increase to under 3.5%.”