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An additional $4.9 million for Burnet County government coffers might not be enough to meet the growing needs of a growing population, according to Burnet County commissioners, who are holding a public hearing on the proposed tax rate and budget followed by a vote at their regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 22. The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. in the Burnet County Courthouse, 220 S. Pierce St. in Burnet.

The county released the proposed budget on Tuesday, Aug. 15, revealing a tax rate of $0.3541 per $100 property valuation, a 5.97 percent decrease from the fiscal year 2022-23 tax rate of $0.3766 per $100 valuation. 

Burnet County property tax revenues have increased by 13.41 percent due to new construction and increased property appraisals from the Burnet Central Appraisal District. That increase is expected to bring in $34.3 million in revenues for the new fiscal year, up from $31.7 million in revenues in 2022-23. 

County commissioners plan to use new revenues to hire additional staff and make needed upgrades, but state caps on tax revenues might prevent the county from effectively keeping up with growth, they said.

“Every new resident adds to the county’s burden,” Burnet County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery told DailyTrib.com. “There’s no room to cut (in the budget), and we need to be able to expand.”

A Texas law passed in 2019, Senate Bill 2, put a 3.5-percent cap on revenue increases for cities and counties on their tax bases from the previous year. The cap is to keep local governments from drastically increasing property taxes in a short time span. It also presents a challenge for governments like Burnet County that rely solely on property taxes for revenue and are experiencing rapid growth.

Dockery and County Auditor Karin Smith gave a few examples of the shortfalls in the budget: 

  • Burnet County’s contribution to the Central Appraisal District increased 11.5 percent from last year.
  • Health insurance costs went up 6.5 percent.
  • Pedernales Electric Cooperative rates went up 6.2 percent.
  • Software costs went up 5 percent.
  • The Sheriff’s Office budget went up 10 percent.
  • The Burnet County Library System’s budget went up 17 percent.

County departments across the board requested a total of 31 percent in budget increases that were not approved. 

These cost increases are mostly due to new staff hires, equipment upgrades, cost-of-living salary increases, predicted overtime costs, and increased services to meet growing needs. 

The county’s population has grown 7.75 percent over the past three years. The Burnet County Development Services Office has created 1,450 new addresses since 2022, and the number of wells being drilled in the county annually has nearly doubled since 2018.

The county’s budget can be supplemented by taxes on new construction the first year those structures are built, giving a reprieve to the budget as long as new construction continues. 

Burnet County received $1.7 million in revenues from its $4.9 million increase in revenues from taxes on new construction. Dockery and Smith warned that any lulls in new construction down the line could further hinder the county’s ability to keep up with the demands of growth.

“The new construction really helps us, but if it dies off, that’s when it will really hurt,” Dockery warned.

dakota@thepicayune.com

3 thoughts on “Proposed Burnet County budget focuses on staff; public hearing Aug. 22

  1. Burnet County and Llano County and the commissioners courts needs to get off the backs of the water front people for their property tax revenue and look at agriculture exemptions … I am sick of this .. and we have several
    politician who own property / ranches
    here in Texas and they continue to “hide” behind ag exempt ..while we here are Lake Lbj thank you Stan Hempill and Burnet County take our properties from us .. very very sad … hope they can sleep at night !!

  2. If you didn’t know better you would think Burnet County is being run by Joe Biden and the Democrats! They CONTINUE to spend, spend and spend some more. They are spending $$$ that we don’t have.

    When the previous judge left office about 8 years ago Burnet County was $2M in the hole. Today, with the 5 “leaders” Burnet County has elected we are $35M+ in the hole. Ask them next Tuesday how you burn through millions when tax revenues continue to skyrocket and we have very little to show for it. They think it is fine to spend about $500,000 a year in interest payments. They want to build a bridge to nowhere in Marble Falls, a “convention center/meeting facility” in Burnet and maybe even another bridge down next to Travis County.

    Don’t buy what they are trying to sell. Burnet County is in big trouble.

    There are a lot of excuses in the article above but the 5 need to look in the mirror. Better yet, they need to apologize to Burnet County and resign.

  3. “Every new resident adds to the county’s burden”? When did public servants start thinking–much less saying out loud–that taxpayers who fund EVERYTHING are a “burden”? A megalomaniacal “need to be able to expand” is the real burden. It sits squarely and only on taxpayers.

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