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The Smith County Communications Office strives to promote transparency by providing the public with the most accurate, accessible and up-to-date information possible while promoting the county's brand and message of "Striving for Excellence."


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Located on the first floor of the Smith County Annex Building
200 E. Ferguson, Suite 100
Tyler, Texas 75702

Phone: 903-590-4607
Email: Casey Murphy

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County News

County Files Proposed Budget with Lower Tax Rate

On Friday, July 31, Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran filed the Fiscal Year 2021 Proposed Budget, which drops the tax rate by a full penny from the current fiscal year in an effort to provide tax relief to property owners during this time when so many have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since late June, the Commissioners Court has held multiple budget workshops to discuss the Proposed Budget and receive input from the public. Now that it has filed with the County Clerk’s Office, the Commissioners Court will hold additional public meetings on the Proposed Budget and proposed tax rate before adopting those items on August 25. Fiscal Year 2021 goes into effect October 1, 2020.

Recognizing the economic hardships that many citizens in Smith County have had to endure through COVID-19, the proposed budget seeks to lower the property tax rate from 34.5 cents per $100 valuation to 33.5 cents per $100 valuation in FY2021. This decrease is anticipated to be about a half of a cent below the No-New-Revenue Rate (formerly known as the “Effective Rate”), though the final calculation of the No-New-Revenue Rate had not yet been provided to the County as of July 31.

The tax cut means that the County would take in less revenue from property taxes in FY2021 than it did in FY2020 if no new property had been added. The only additional property tax revenue will come from new property development.

“Cutting property taxes below the no-new-revenue rate is a rarity with governmental entities, and it is especially so during this time when the County’s property tax rate is already among one of the lowest in Texas and its other sources of revenue such as sales tax revenue, fines and fees, and interest are decreasing significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Judge Moran gave credit to the County’s numerous elected officials, department heads, and the Auditor’s office, all of whom worked hard early to find areas within their individual budgets to trim, knowing that many households in Smith County were having to do the same.  

“It is a reflection of your character, your dedication to public service, and your recognition of this extraordinary time and the need to reaffirm to all in this community, ‘We are with you,’” he said in his cover letter to elected officials and department heads.

In addition to making cuts, Judge Moran noted that the County will be able to weather this economic downturn without increasing the tax burden on property tax owners and without affecting the quality of services to citizens because of the County’s healthy financial condition, its strong reserve fund, and its decision this year to delay needed capital improvement projects and expenditures.  

The Proposed Budget, among other things:

  • Delays the previously planned bond election for a new Courthouse, originally planned for November 2020;
  • Transfers $1.8 million from the Capital Improvement Projects Fund to the General Fund to cover the decreases in revenue;
  • Uses $2.2 million from the Road and Bridge Department Fund Reserves to support continued FY 2021 Road and Bridge maintenance and operations to ensure that the priority on infrastructure is not affected;
  • Cuts a number of general operating expenses under local control;
  • Reduces fleet expenditures from $1.2 million to under $400,000; and
  • Reduces the number of total employees in the County, by eliminating a variety of positions, while reclassifying other positions to cover new needs in the Sheriff’s Office and Office of the District Attorney.

Although the proposed budget does not provide for any across-the-board Cost of Living Adjustments or salary increases for employees, no additional contribution toward health insurance will be required and health benefits will remain steady. 

“Because of these deep cuts and delayed capital improvement needs, next year’s budget will likewise be challenging, but experience has shown that the cuts we made this year will help us better face those challenges next year,” Judge Moran said. “My hope is that the economy will rebound in short fashion and we can return to normal in a manner consistent with the continued dedication to sound fiscal policy and transparency that have been our hallmarks for several years.” 

To view the entire FY2021 Proposed Budget, visit:

https://www.smith-county.com/home/showdocument?id=10332

 

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