The Bexar County Commissioners on Tuesday granted a $2.8 billion budget and a cut in the county tax rate which aims to trim down a few dollars off the property tax bills.
The 2022 fiscal year budget that will start on Oct. 1 depends on federal stimulus funds to connect the gap of a minimum of $8.3 million between revenue and spending. The budget also includes a small reduction in the county’s property tax rate which is a measure campaigned by Commissioner Trish DeBerry who said it would give taxpayers a little relief during a pandemic year, San Antonio Express-News reported.
The total savings from the tax rate cut would be at $1.7 million, just less than $4 annually for an average homeowner.
According to Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, the budget comprises funds to introduce a $617 million, 10-year program to build 87 capital projects that include roads, trails, parks, and flood-control improvements.
The budget deliberation became challenging due to a rush of last-minute funding requests and different takes on the tax cut, Wolff said. He also admitted that it has been the most difficult budget he had been through.
Commissioners were set to approve the budget with only little discussion but a request from district court judges, the sheriff, and the district attorney’s office for a $1.8 million additional for a new children’s court triggered a debate about the tax cut.
Wolff, DeBerry, and Commissioner Tommy Calvert backed the cut while Commissioner Justin Rodriguez voted against it. Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores abstained.
Only DeBerry supported the tax cut saying it did not come “at the expense of children or women.” The cut will also be the first to be able to provide relief to Bexar County homeowners.
“This is not a county that is shrinking, by any stretch of the imagination,” DeBerry said. “We are going to continue to collect a record amount of property taxes because we continue to grow.”
Clay-Flores who abstained said she doesn’t want to be part of “political games.”
“We believe in keeping finances in the general fund, so that we can have resources for things like children’s court and against domestic violence. I abstain from voting on this because I am not going to tell my constituents that I’m saving you four measly dollars,” said Clay-Flores.
Meanwhile, County Manager David Smith suggested leaving the tax rate as is but also said that there was room in a budget for a cut from 30.1 cents to 29.99 cents, per $100 of valuation.
The new rate is just one-tenth of a penny lower than the current rate.
“I think it continues our tradition of trying to keep as much burden off the taxpayers as we can,” Wolff said.
The budget also includes a 5 percent increase for county employees, with an extra $1, 000 lump-sum raise for hourly workers. The lump-sum increase that was proposed by Clay-Flores aims to give a boost to employees who are at the lower end of the pay scale.