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Commissioners Court Approves Tax Rate Reduction (WCP) 8/19/2019

The Walker County Commissioners Court recorded their official vote to approve a property tax rate of $0.5018 per $100 taxable assessed valuation on Monday. The previous year’s (FY18-19) property tax rate was $0.5494 per $100 taxable assessed valuation. County Judge Danny Pierce said, “That’s a reduction of almost a nickel, on the tax rate, which is the largest I have ever seen since I’ve been in office.” The property value tax rate for the coming fiscal year was reduced by about 9% from 2019. Some property owners will see an increase in county taxes because of rising property values. The county is projected to increase revenue by almost $1 million, a 5% increase over last year’s revenues which is primarily driven by county growth and increasing property values.

The County Commissioners Court also recorded their official vote to approve a budget of $32.9 million. The budget includes five replacement patrol vehicles for the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, a new deputy constable for Precinct 3, a new ambulance, and an increase of $800,000 for the road and bridge fund. The new budget also includes a 4% raise for full time county employees or a minimum pay increase of $1,750 annually, whichever is greater. Other notable budget items were for a new detention officer in the Walker County Jail and a part-time emergency management employee. Commissioner Ronnie White (Pct. 2) had previously said, “I think overall it is a pretty good budget.”

The Commissioners Court also discussed adding an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for the approximately 400 county employees at no cost. The EAP would allow county employees access to limited counseling for problems ranging to lease agreements to marriage counseling. Commissioner Bill Daugette Jr. (Pct. 3) said, “We are one of the few counties, and the only entity in Walker County, that does not offer EAP.”

Other commissioners expressed concern for the cost and the need for the service because of the county’s small size and limited budget. Commissioner Danny Kuykendall (Pct.1) said, “We are talking about spending $10,000. I’m under the impression that this is extra, we do already offer these services.” Daugette replied, “We don’t offer all of them. We only offer medical counseling out of the employees’ pocket.” The court agreed to receive bids for the service and to get a briefing on exactly what the EAP program will provide, how the benefits will be tracked, and how much it will cost.

The court also unanimously approved Texas Department of Transportation agreement for improvements to Four Notch Road, including replacement of the old wooden bridge, and voted to adopt the budget for FY19-20.

The next Walker County Commissioner Court meeting is Monday, August 26, 2019, at 9:00 am.

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