Commissioners Court Approves Budget and Sets Tax Rate
The Williamson County Commissioners Court unanimously approved the total county budget of $453,177,654.23. The total county budget is comprised of the General Fund, Road and Bridge Fund and Debt Service Fund.
The Commissioners Court also adopted a total tax rate for tax year 2021 of $0.440846. That rate is less than the county’s current total tax rate of $0.458719.
”With this tax rate and property tax exemptions, the average county homestead tax bill will decrease by $14,” said Larry Gaddes, Williamson County Tax Assessor/Collector.
In May, the Williamson County Commissioners Court voted to increase property tax exemptions, providing tax relief to all residential homesteads in the county. Property tax exemptions for persons 65 and older increased from $30,000 to $90,000. Property tax exemption for disabled persons increased from $20,000 to $75,000.
The Commissioners Court also added a homestead property tax exemption for all homeowners of 1.5% of their homestead’s assessed value or $5,000, whichever is greater. In order to qualify for the homestead exemption, the property owner must have owned and occupied the property as of January 1 of the tax year.
The adopted FY22 General Fund budget is $253,838,754.69 and includes 29 new positions. First responder positions represent a third of the new positions, including the Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Medical Services.
“We are excited to be opening a new EMS station this spring or summer in Leander, one of the fastest growing areas of the county,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long. “We have increased the starting pay for our paramedics in order to attract the best and brightest in this extremely competitive market.”
The Commissioners Court approved increases to the corrections salary chart and a 6% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for law enforcement, in addition to a step increase based on tenure equivalent to 2.25%. Civilian employees will receive a 4% COLA and 2% merit increase.
“This budget shows a significant investment in our law enforcement. We have increased both the corrections and law enforcement pay charts and added six new employees,” said County Judge Bill Gravell. “This investment totals more than $5.6 million. In Williamson County we do not defund our police, we defend them.”
“I am most proud to support our District Attorney’s desire to increase professionalism in his office by supporting funding for two new senior prosecutors to help our children as well as ensure the integrity of our convictions. This is a win-win for the taxpayers and for Williamson County’s judicial system,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Terry Cook.
The General Fund budget also includes $12.7 million for capital improvements as well as $13,877,365.14 for the county’s long-range transportation plan.
The adopted FY 21 Road and Bridge Fund budget is $46,887,639.54. It includes a 4% COLA and 2% merit increase for employees, five new employees and $5 million for the county’s long-range transportation plan.
The recommended FY 21 Debt Service Fund budget is $152,451,260 and includes $25 million for debt defeasance to pay down debt early.
“Paying down debt early is a priority of this Commissioners Court. For nearly 20 years, Williamson County has saved more than $174.5 million in interest through its efforts to pay off debt early and refinancing,” said Commissioner Valerie Covey, Precinct 3.
“The Commissioners Court has taken the first steps in updating the county’s strategic plan. Our budget includes funding to develop this plan which will set priorities for the county for the next several years,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner Russ Boles.
The adopted FY22 budget is available for residents to review on the Budget Office website, under the section titled “Budget Overview”. The link is www.wilco.org/Departments/Budget-Office/Budget-Overview. A hard copy of the budget will be available by September 30, 2021, at the County Clerk’s Office in the Justice Center located at 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Street, in Georgetown.