The Burnet Central Appraisal District, 223 S. Pierce St., is purchasing its neighbor, Caring Hearts for Children, with plans to renovate and expand district offices within the next two years. Courtesy photo
The Burnet Central Appraisal District changed its expansion plans from a new, $3 million building to the $405,000 purchase of the property next door to its current location at 223 S. Pierce St. on the square. Add another $200,000 for renovations, and the appraisal district can pay for the project without help from outside entities, district board member Dave Kithil told the Burnet County Commissioners Court at its regular meeting Tuesday, May 10.
“We came before you six months ago pursuing the purchase of land,” Kithil said. “That approach, building a new building, would have been excessively expensive. Some of the entities said it was not something they could support, so we took a whole new look at the matter.”
Chief Appraiser Stan Hemphill approached the district’s neighbor, Caring Hearts for Children at 215 S. Pierce St., and asked the owner what he would take for the space. The price was $395,000 plus closing costs. The owner requested he be allowed to lease back the property for $1,200 a month while the adoption service looks for another location.
“That could happen sooner,” Kithil said. “This is a good deal. We have the cash to make the purchase and pay for the improvements in the future. It’s not going to cost the entities anything.”
“It’s cost-effective and it keeps the appraisal district across the street from the courthouse,” Burnet County Judge James Oakley said.
The acquisition was approved 4-0. Precinct 1 Commissioner Jim Luther was absent from the meeting.
In other good budget news, commissioners learned that “folks in Burnet County pay their taxes.” That assessment came from Noe Reyes with McCreary, Veselka, Bragg and Allen, which collects delinquent taxes for the county. Tax collections for 2020 came in at 102.06 percent, which includes penalties and interest paid.
“These cumulative tax collections are about as high as I’ve seen anywhere,” Reyes said.
He also mentioned an uptick in tax sales.
“Two or three years ago, we had over 100 properties that did not receive a bid at a public auction,” Reyes said. “Today, we have only three. Property is selling in Burnet County.”
Oakley announced dates for setting the county’s 2022-23 tax rate. The proposed tax rate will be discussed at the Commissioners Court meeting Aug. 9. On Aug. 23, commissioners will hold a public hearing on the rate and then adopt both the budget and the tax rate. Meetings between now and then will include a series of specific budget discussions.
“The biggest thing we have coming up is to accommodate growth,” Oakley said. “We have requests for more positions.”
Those include eight new sheriff’s deputies, a mix of several part-time and full-time librarians, a new position each in the county and District Attorney’s offices, and a position in the County Clerk’s office, among others.