NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches County residents can now access the county judge's explanation for a proposed five-cent tax hike.
Judge Joe English posted his summary of the final budget on the county Website Thursday. The judge told East Texas News that he thinks his summary is important reading for Nacogdoches County taxpayers.
At least since May of this year, English has crunched the budget numbers. He's ready to present the $17 million conclusions to the top of the organizational chart, the county voters.
"Let the public have that opportunity to look at that budget and get with any of the commissioners or myself if there's something that's really bothering them," English said.
Increasing the tax rate 5 cents per $100 valuation is the biggest worry.
"Just that 5 cents alone is gonna generate 2 cents less than where we were last year as an effective tax rate," said Jim Elder, the Pct. 3 commissioner. "Just to get back where we were would have been almost a 7-cent tax increase."
The court's explanation for the shortfall is no surprise. The court blames a four-year decline in revenue from mineral values and collectibles.
"At this time we're still pulling, have to pull, about $613,000 out of the general fund balance," Elder said.
And where is the majority of the money directed?
"We have given our employees a 2 percent across the board raise," Elder said. "That's the first raise they've seen in 4 years."
Other significant budget changes take place in the sheriff's office and jail. Some funds will be returned following significant cuts made in 2012.
"It's going to bring a total of $642,000 back into law enforcement," English said.
A position in the criminal investigation division is replaced. Funds for radio maintenance, patrol car cameras, and cell phone upgrades are also on the list, as is an assessment for jail repairs.
"I put $150,000 in this budget to start that process," English said.
Road and bridge still faces a decrease in funds of over $165,000.
"We get no new equipment this year," English said. "We gonna try to get by with the existing equipment."
As taxpayers review the judge's summary, the author wants readers to keep one thing in mind.
"Every year is a challenge and this year is no exception," English said.
The judge's budget summary can be viewed at the Nacogdoches County Website. The budget adoption court date is September 24. There will be a public hearing at nine a.m., followed by the court meeting.