Higher appraisals may bring lower tax rate

A lower tax rate is in the cards for Walker County

County auditors have used 48 cents as the working tax rate as they assembled the proposed 2021 fiscal year budget, which the commissioners court received Thursday. The spending plan calls for expenditures and revenue to stay relatively steady, with more than $39.3 million in expenses and nearly $35.7 million in projected revenues.

But commissioners — pointing to the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and increased property appraisals — have repeatedly refused a tax increase.

The proposed property tax rate for 2020-21 is a near 2 cent drop from the current year’s rate, with commissioners sticking with the calculated no-new-revenue rate. If approved, it will be the lowest tax rate the county has seen in at least a decade.

“It looks better than I thought it would. The question is will revenues hold up,” Commissioner Ronnie White (Pct. 2) said.

However, despite the property tax drop the county is still expected to raise more than $1.1 million in additional property, a 5.29% increase. Most of the new revenue comes from an estimated $795,668 from new property added to the tax roll.

Property taxes account for nearly half of the county’s yearly revenues, while sales taxes make up 11% of the budget. The rest of the budget is derived from county fees, most of which have seen significant decreases during COVID-19.

A public hearing that will allow citizens to voice support or opposition to the new budget is scheduled for Aug. 24.