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The Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District has proposed a new tax rate to bring in more money based on recommendations from a Burnet County groundwater stakeholders group that has been reviewing the district’s policies since June. The increase would fund education projects and data collection for the 2023-24 fiscal year. 

“There seems to be a general consensus that there is a lot of interest in our being able to have and use data to help with decision making going forward,” Precinct 1 Director Kathy Griffis-Bailey said during an Aug. 21 board meeting. 

Stakeholder group member Darrell Peckham voiced his agreement from the audience.

“I would say that’s an accurate statement,” he said.

A public hearing on the proposed rate of $0.0055 per $100 property valuation in Burnet County is at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 15, at the district’s office, 225 S. Pierce St. in Burnet. 

The new rate is less than last year’s $0.0057, but higher property valuations this year mean more tax dollars will be collected overall.

A no-new-revenue rate of $0.0050 per $100 valuation would have raised the same amount of money as the 2022-23 rate, according to the Burnet Central Appraisal District. That rate would have brought in about $648,000 for the district. The new rate would collect an estimated $713,000 in revenues, a 10 percent increase. 

District General Manager Mitchell Sodek told the Board of Directors that the district could get by on the no-new-revenue rate if it was willing to dip into reserves for the coming year. Because the directors wanted to fund recommendations from the stakeholder group, they chose to go with a slight increase. 

The district assembled the stakeholder group in May to get community input on groundwater management policies. Peckham and 10 other stakeholders representing various community interests in Burnet County have been working with the district and a professional mediator to wade through policies and develop recommendations for the future.

According to Griffis-Bailey, the stakeholders have made several suggestions that would increase costs for the district in an effort to acquire more data on groundwater that could be used to make better decisions.

She ultimately proposed the $0.0055 rate, which the board unanimously approved.

Groundwater Conservation District tax dollars are used to facilitate overall operations, which includes managing, permitting, and regulating groundwater use in Burnet County.