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BURNET — Burnet County commissioners have approved a balanced budget and a tax rate that does not call for any increases.

Because the rate is not a hike, most property taxes could stay the same unless the appraisal of the property goes up, officials said.

The budget also gives county employees a 2 percent cost-of-living raise, preserves funding to the Sheriff’s Office and factors in a 10 percent cut for training and supplies for most departments.

County employees also see their health-insurance costs rise.

“I am very proud of all our officials,” County Judge Donna Klaeger said Sept. 19. “As we went through the (budget negotiation) process — we made adjustments. It was difficult because of the economy. “

During a recent meeting, the commissioners adopted a rate of 37.24 cents per $100 of property valuation for fiscal year 2011-2012, which starts Oct. 1.

The adopted rate will support a budget of more than $20.4 million, which includes about $4.9 million in the reserve fund and more than $251,000 in property value recently added to the tax roll, according to the County Auditor’s Office.

The cost of health insurance for county employees is expected to increase by 7 percent, officials said.

Plus, the commissioners decided against cutting the budget for the Sheriff’s Office.

“We left them exactly where they are,” Klaeger said.

On the other hand, the new budget includes a long-awaited, 2 percent cost-of-living increase for county employees, Klaeger said.

“Not many counties can do that,” she added.

Some belt-tightening by other county departments, the reduced cost of indigent health care and postponement on several road and building-maintenance projects will help keep the county books in the black, Klaeger said.

The Legislature recently reduced the county’s share of the cost for indigent health care from $1.1 million to $775,000.

Also during the new budget cycle, most county departments plan to reduce their requests for training and supplies by 10 percent.

Also, a state grant of $425,000 for a new public defender office will help the county save “thousands of dollars,” she added.

The office will be headed by a nonprofit group to represent defendants who can’t afford their own legal counsel, according to officials.

raymond@thepicayune.com