The Walker County Commissioners Court met to approve the new tax rate and budget for 2020. The property value tax rate for the coming fiscal year was reduced by about 9% from 2019. The current tax rate is $5.494 per $1,000 and next year’s tax rate will be $5.018 per $1,000. However, even though the rate is being lowered, 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.
The County Commissioners Court also approved 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.
Most of the budget, about 60%, is funded through property taxes, while 11% comes from sales taxes and 9% comes through service charges. The largest portion of the base budget is general operating costs, which totals $14.6 million and consumes 72% of the base budget. The road and bridge fund is the second largest and totals $3.1 million. The third largest is general debt service at $1.16 million.
“I think overall it is a pretty good budget, except for some stuff in precinct 3 that I disagree with.” Commissioner Ronnie White (Pct. 2) said. “I’ve been pretty vocal about it over the whole budget process.” Precinct Commissioner Jimmy Henry (Pct. 4) added, “I think we are pretty close; it looks good to me.”
The final budget was approved on July 31, 2019 and goes into effect at the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2019 and goes through September 30, 2020. The next Walker County Commissioners Court meeting is August 12, 2019.