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Taylor County commissioners face tough budget decisions

By Braid Blanks, bblanks@ktxs.com
Published On: Jul 22 2013 04:27:17 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 23 2013 11:47:03 AM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

The first step of creating the Taylor County budget for next fiscal year is over.

Last week, budget requests were given to Taylor County commissioners, who say they have requests totaling $57 million and $49 million to spend.

That's what's on the plate for Taylor County commissioners to figure out. 

"If we fund the budget as it has been given to us, without a tax increase, keeping the current tax rate at 48.26 cents (per $100 valuation), it would necessitate $8 million to come out of the reserve fund," Taylor County Judge, Downing Bolls said.

Bolls said that's something he and the commissioners work to avoid at all costs. Why?

"When our fiscal year starts on Oct. 1, we have no tax revenue coming in yet. January 31 is when taxes are due. So, for that first three months, we're having to use money out of our reserves, our fund balance, to keep the county funded and doing the things we're supposed to be doing," Bolls said.

Couple that with keeping enough in the reserve to keep the county running for three to five months if a catastrophic event or disaster happened, it doesn't look like a very good option.

So what about raising taxes?

"It would necessitate a tax increase of about 10.7 cents (per $100 valuation). That's a significant increase. In the tax rate, anything over three percent would open the door to a roll back election. The public could roll the tax rate back to the previous rate and that would leave a lot of things unfunded," Bolls said.

In all, 19 different agencies presented budget requests to the county. So without dipping into the reserve fund, or raising taxes, commissioners along with the asking parties will go through the budget, line by line, to make cuts while still ensuring everyone has what they need.

"At the end of the day, we have things we have to fund, before any of the other things we want to do, we have things we have to do and those things must be funded and we will do those things. What I want people to know is that we take it very seriously. You talk about trying to get blood out of a stone, this group will do it. I can tell you, they are here to serve the taxpayers," Bolls said.

Bolls said it's important to note that much work still must be done and many discussions are ahead, as the budget won't be finalized until early September.