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Sheriff’s Office, courts get lion’s share of Burnet County revenue increase

Burnet County Commissioners Court, Aug. 25, 2023

Burnet County commissioners listen during a public hearing prior to their vote on the fiscal year 2023-24 county budget and tax rate. Commissioners unanimously approved both on Aug. 22. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Burnet County Commissioners Court approved the county’s lowest tax rate in over 10 years and decided where to spend a $2.5 million increase in revenue on Tuesday, Aug. 22. The regular meeting followed a well-attended public hearing on the fiscal year 2023-24 tax rate and budget. 

The revenue increase will be mostly divided between the Sheriff’s Office and the county court system, with each getting about $1.1 million. The county also plans to hire six new employees and provide cost-of-living and longevity pay raises for most staff.

The new Burnet County budget rose by 9 percent to $30.1 million from $27.6 million last year. The newly approved tax rate of $0.3541 per $100 property valuation is6 percent less than last year’s rate of $0.3766. 

New county positions and their yearly salaries include: 

  • a grant specialist in the auditor’s office, $62,800;
  • a deputy county clerk, $46,924;
  • a court clerk for the Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 office, $49,331;
  • an assistant human resources director, $62,800;
  • an animal control assistant, $56,243; 
  • and a Western Radio System manager, $72,425 (part of which will come from other entities in the Western Radio System).

The 2023-24 budget also allocates $185,000 to the Burnet County Library System.

“This year, we received $9.9 million in new budget requests, or essentially (what would amount to) a 31 percent increase (to the budget),” Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery said at the Tuesday meeting. “Based on the $2.5 million in new revenue available from property taxes for the general budget, it is obvious not all requests could be granted.”

Dockery warned of future troubles regarding Burnet County’s ability to generate revenue. American Rescue Plan Act money dries up in 2025 and projected new construction seems to be slowing down, leaving the county almost totally dependent upon its property tax revenue. 

The state of Texas caps property tax increases by local governments at 3.5 percent a year.