The Gonzales County Commissioners Court unanimously approved a $24.8 million budget for fiscal year 2024 and adopted a tax rate of 24.2 cents per $100 valuation at a special called meeting Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Commissioners also set the salary schedule as well as expenses and allowances for elected county and precinct officials.
The new tax rate represents a decrease of 6.51 cents from last year’s tax rate of 30.71 cents per $100 valuation and is equal to the no-new-revenue rate, which essentially a tax rate that would produce the same amount of taxes if applied to the same properties taxed in the current and prior fiscal year, without taking any new improvements into consideration.
The average homestead went up in value from $132,149 in 2022 to $157,545, an increase of 25,396, or 19.22 percent, but the tax on the average homestead is expected to go down from $405.83 last year to $381.26 this year, a decrease of $24.57, or 6.05 percent.
The total tax levy on all property in the county is increasing from $13,972,697 last year to $14,087,015 this year — an increase of $114,318, or 0.82 percent. Of that amount, $120,790 is tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year.
The budget approved Tuesday included some additions not previously included in the draft filed by County Judge Pat Davis last month. That includes an increase of $16,000 for the Precinct 4 Constable budget for upgrade to video equipment and storage and salary adjustments for Sheriff Keith Schmidt’s dispatchers. It also creates a $50,000 records management line item for restoration of records books for the County Clerk’s office, which oversees the County Records Management Fund.
The approved budget calls for more than $24.8 million in expenditures against revenues of more than $19.8 million. The county has a projected fiscal year 2023 ending fund balance of nearly $21.94 million from which it will pay for the difference.
The proposed budget calls for general fund expenditures of $17,491,956.66, an increase of $1,101,626.83, or 6.7 percent, above last year’s general fund budget of $16,390,329.83. The majority of that increase comes from a salary increase of $1.50 per hour, or $3,120 per year, across the board for full-time county employees.
There are also increases for longevity pay as well as for increases for the cost of supplies due to inflation. The general fund is expected to generate $14,404,526 in revenue for the upcoming year, an increase of 14.8 percent or $1,857,286, above the $12,547,240 that was generated last year.
Gonzales County has also budgeted an overall total of $6,952,020.52 for road and bridge expenditures, which includes salaries, capital outlay, supplies and money for right-of-way acquisition and maintenance costs. Last year, Gonzales County budgeted $6,598,756.56, so this year’s budget represents an increase of $353,263.96, or almost 5.35 percent.
While supplies and materials have gone up due to inflation and the expenses also include the salary increase of $1.50 per hour per road and bridge employee, the commissioners also increased the amount funded to Precinct 2 from $1,737,971.19 to $2,076,427.10. There are modest increases to both the Precinct 3 and Precinct 4 expenditure budgets, while the Precinct 1 budget has decreased from $1,933,524.19 to $1,781,482.10.
Gonzales County has budgeted revenue of $5,280,036 for the road and bridge fund for fiscal year 2024, compared to the $5,934,407 that was budgeted in 2023 — a decreased of $654,371 in revenue.