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Llano County to use reserves to keep tax rate low

Llano County Precinct 1 Commissioner Peter Jones

Llano County Precinct 1 Commissioner Peter Jones explains the county’s decision to dip into its surplus to keep property taxes at the same rate as last year’s. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Llano County will dip into its cash reserves to supplement its 2023-24 fiscal year budget, allowing it to maintain one of the lowest tax rates in the state. The Llano County Commissioners Court formally adopted the same tax rate as last year during its regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 11.

Commissioners held a public hearing on the proposed tax rate of $0.26621 per $100 property valuation during the meeting. They unanimously approved the rate after the hearing. Although the rate is the same as for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, it will result in a 14 percent increase in overall revenue because of a rise in property values.

Llano County’s 2022-23 tax rate is the 13th lowest of Texas’ 254 counties, according to the Texas Association of Counties. This puts Llano County in the lowest-sixth percentile for property tax rates in the state. The absolute lowest tax rate, $0.162707 per $100 property valuation, belongs to Culberson County in West Texas, population 2,188, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. Neighboring Burnet County recently approved a rate of $0.3541 for the coming fiscal year.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Peter Jones summarized the changes to the budget and explained that the Commissioners Court worked to keep costs down and use $4 million from the county’s general fund to bridge the gap between the expected $17.8 million in revenue and the $21.8 million in budgeted expenditures. The county will still be able to maintain a cash reserve. 

“(Using the money from the general fund) provides us the opportunity to keep the property rates this year and also maintain $5.5 million in cash reserves for the county, which is sufficient for the county to maintain its obligations,” he said.

Jones credited the county’s department heads for cutting costs and making it possible to keep tax rates down for property owners in the coming year.