Smith County judge proposes decrease in tax rate

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00pm

Smith County Judge Joel Baker filed a proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget this week that will decrease the tax rate while maintaining the same level of county services for citizens. Judge Baker, who serves as the county’s budget officer, credits careful financial management, conservative budgeting, and recent signs of economic growth over the past few years for the positive 2013 outlook.

With an anticipated $576,594 in additional revenue to be added to the tax roll this year due to new construction, the future looks more favorable for county coffers. “The overall picture is strong and enables us to make positive financial decisions this year that impact our employees, our citizens, and overall county management,” said Judge Baker.

The Smith County Appraisal District certified the tax roll with a very slight increase in appraised value from the previous year. County efforts to streamline operations have also enabled Judge Baker to propose a slight reduction in the tax rate to the effective tax rate for the upcoming year without adversely affecting the quality of services provided to citizens.

The 2013 budget allows the county to pay cash for several capital improvement projects that are part of the PAYGO program and the 2008 Master Plan. This includes fulfilling the county’s long term goal of vacating the Smith County Office Building, also known as the Carlton Hotel.

Judge Baker added that the proposed budget looks beyond 2013 needs to long term county goals, including a pilot program for objectively measuring performance of county employees and rewarding high performance. “We also hope to implement a forecasting process that will allow us to better anticipate, plan for, and address county needs, including road and bridge maintenance and future construction.”

There will be two public hearings on the proposed 2013 budget. One will be held on August 21st at 5:30 p.m. in the commissioners courtroom in the Courthouse Annex, and another public hearing will be held on August 28th at 9:30 a.m. Following the August 28th public hearing, the court will vote on the FY2013 budget. The adopted budget will go into effect October 1, 2012.

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