by Adam Shear
WACO - Nearly everyone in Central Texas is facing possible property tax increases as local government officials begin looking at their 2013 fiscal year budgets.
Several city managers and county commissioners say because of rising costs they are facing, their decisions will come down to substantial budget cuts or raising property taxes.
McLennan Co., Coryell Co., and Limestone Co. officials have all confirmed they are looking into the possibility of raising their tax rates next year.
"There are a variety of ways that you can go about making the budget balanced so to speak," said Adam Harry, McLennan Co. Budget Office. "One [option] is unfortunately a tax increase. The other is to make a lot of cuts in a lot of different places."
McLennan Co. is considering raising taxes to help fund their inmate care budget. The county underestimated how much money they would need for inmate care in 2012 and wound up having to pay an addition $2 million on top of the $1 million they budgeted for.
Harry believes the additional revenue from raising the taxes could help fund the $3 million inmate care fund they plan to have for FY2013.
McLennan Co. would be looking to raise their tax rate from $0.46/$100 of property to $0.495/$100 of property. This means if a persons home is appraised at $100,000, they will pay $35 more in taxes starting in 2013.
The county could see additional property tax increases if McLennan Community College also chooses to raise their property tax value that county residents pay. According to MCC officials the board plans to meet to discuss this possibility.
Coryell Co. also is looking to possibly raise their property taxes. The Coryell Co. Judge says the county would be looking at raising the property tax from $0.424/$100 of property to $0.449/$100 of property. The county would use this money to develop their new jail and other county projects.
According to the Coryell Co. Judge many counties are facing these types of decisions after the Texas state law makers put more of the financial responsibilities in the hands of local government.
"The reality is, if the state government continues to restrict what they do to support the citizens of this state, then that means not just county governments, but school district, etc... [will be more responsible for funding]," said John Firth, Coryell Co. Judge. "It's going to make it tougher and tougher for local governments."
Counties are the only ones facing tough decisions. The city of Robinson is also looking to raise property tax rates. Robert Cervenka, the Robinson City Manager, says the city council recently decided to buy replace police vehicles for Robinson PD.
While Robinson officials say this is a needed expense, residents can expect to pay $0.0385 more per $100 of property, if the city votes to increase property taxes. If both McLennan Co. and the city of Robinson chose to raise rates, Robinson residents could see their taxes go up $72 per year if they own a $100,000 home.
"Things have begun to raise in price across the board," said Cervenka. "It's not just one city, county, or state; it's across the nation."
Most officials expect to have their budget decisions made by the end of the month.
The Limestone Co. Judge says he does not know what sort of tax increase the county is considering at that time.
McLennan Co. commissioner Kelly Snell believes the county will vote not to increase property taxes in the county.