The courtroom had the usual attendees, county employees and politicians, but no residents showed to speak during this second tax rate hearing.
During the last meeting, held Aug. 23, two people came and spoke. Both were there to get clarification on the tax rate and budget, but not to speak out for or against the court’s decision.
On Aug. 9, commissioners proposed an increase of 3.5 cents above the effective tax rate for the upcoming year.
In order to generate the same amount of money as last year, known as the effective tax rate, commissioners would have to propose a rate of .46565. However, during the Aug. 9 meeting, commissioners in a three to one vote, opted to propose a rate 3.5 cents higher.
Commissioners Carlos Salazar Jr. and Susan Stasny along with County Judge David Silva voted in favor of the tax increase. Commissioner Ronnie E. Olivares voted against it. Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez was not present.
The rate increase means a person with a $100,000 home will pay $35 more in taxes at this rate compared to the effective rate.
For the average homeowner in Bee County, this rate will mean paying about $293 in county taxes. This calculation is based upon the average taxable value of a home within the county of $56,007.
This rate, however, would generate an additional $331,118 above the effective rate with a portion of this going back into the dwindling county reserve fund.
Commissioners all were reluctant to propose the higher rate but said that it was needed to help increase the reserve.
Salazar, during a prior meeting, said that last year at this time, the county had $900,000 in its reserve. This year, he said, it is down to $500,000.
They stressed during that meeting that this is only a proposed rate and hope that if they are able to secure additional funding, such as from Christus Spohn Hospital, then they will be able to adopt a rate lower than the proposed rate.
Bee County Auditor Blandina V. Costley, in responding to a question from Silva during the Aug. 9 meeting said that a 2.5-cent increase would fit the budget – assuming everything worked out as planned.
However, that amount would put little back into the reserve, something commissioners are hoping to increase.
A third meeting is scheduled for Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. inside the courtroom.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.