By a 3-2 vote, county commissioners approved the 2022-2023 tax rate and budget at the Sept. 20 regular meeting.
The tax rate was set at 416262 cents per $100 valuation, a five cent drop from last year’s ’s tax rate of 0.461171 per $100 valuation.
Even with the tax rate decrease some homeowners and businesses may pay more in taxes this year than last.
For instance, county taxes on a house appraised at $300,000 last year were about $1,383. This year the same house appraised at $345,000, a 15% increase, will pay about $1,436 in county taxes.
County taxes are only part of the tax bill which usually includes school district, city, and emergency district taxes among others.
Commissioners Mike Hunt, Skeet Phillips and Terry Barber voted in favor of the tax rate and budget. County Judge Hal Richards and Commissioner Ken Cates, both of whom are leaving the court, voted against.
Cates and Richards argued during budget discussions over the summer that higher appraisals will bring in more taxes and that the tax rate should be set even lower.
The new tax rate will raise $5,823,232 million more in tax revenue that last year, county statements said. And most of that revenue comes from new businesses and homes being added to the tax rolls.
During budget discussions over the summer, commissioners struggled with employee salary raises.
A salary study done in 2020 showed that many county employees were paid well below their counterparts in private business. Since then, commissioners have been working to bring pay to that level. Many of the lowest paid employees have been moved up, but others still lag behind.
“Growth is not going to stop,” Hunt said in one meeting, arguing for higher raises.
However, Richards and Cates objected to increases that would raise some pay $1,500 or more.
The most controversial increases went to elected officials including commissioners and justices of the peace. The budget includes raises of $10,000 or more for several.
Law enforcement employees, including sheriff’s deputies will receive $5,000.
Sheriff Bryan Beavers said the increase is necessary to recruit new officers. The starting salary for a Kaufman County deputy sheriff is $50,000 while the starting salary for a Terrell officer is $62,400.
Other county employees will receive increases as well.
The adopted budget is available at www.kaufmancounty.net/county-government.