The Erath County Commissioners on Wednesday voted 5-0 to set the tax rate per $100 of tax evaluation one cent lower than what had been the proposed rate.
“I am happy to announce that we were able to adjust the tax rate and adopt a rate of $0.4560, a decrease from the initial proposed rate,” Judge Alfonso Campos stated in an email to the E-T.
The adopted new budget includes a raise of $2,000 per year for each full-time employee, County Judge Alfonso Campos noted. That, of course, does not apply to Erath’s elected officials — Sheriff Matt Coates and Campos.
The raises, for approximately 200 county employees, will account for about $400,000 in the budget.
The adopted tax rate is now set at $0.4560 per $100 of property valuation. Campos said that for a $100,000 home, that will translate to about $15.70 more per year compared to last year’s county tax.
The proposed tax rate previously had been $0.4660.
Last year the rate was $0.4458, and for both of the two years before that, was $0.4700.
“This is my first county budget, and I am glad we could address some of the concerns of the citizens by lowering the rate from the initial proposal,” Campos said.
The judge noted that the major items included in the new budget are:
— $1.5 million (plus or minus) in radio upgrades to improve communications for the sheriff’s office and emergency responders (approximately 300 users of the system).
— $400,000 (plus or minus) for a new public safety software system for the sheriff’s office. That includes computer-aided dispatch, mapping, records management, jail management, civil process tracking, reporting and other features designed to improve safety, efficiency and reliability.
— $4 million (plus or minus) that was previously budgeted to pay jail debt, and will be carried over to the new budget and used for a capital project to add much-needed office space, according to Campos.
— The previously mentioned $400,000 (plus or minus) for a salary increase of $2,000 per year for most of the county’s approximately 200 employees.
“All of the above are significant expenses, but we feel they are long overdue,” Campos said.
Campos also told the E-T following the meeting, “Nobody wants to see them (taxes) going up. We’re happy that all we have to do is put the debt service rate in there. We want to keep the county out of debt.”
He said the message from the “bosses” — the Erath County constituents who spoke during previous public tax rate hearings — was taken to heart.
“Any time you hear from your constituents, you hear from your bosses,” Alfonso said. “They told us about it.”