SMITH COUNTY — The Smith County Commissioners Court unanimously voted today to adopt a 2012 budget that keeps the tax rate at essentially the same level with a one cent, voter approved increase to pay for jail improvements, bringing the tax rate to 0.324 cents per $100 valuation.
“We worked very hard this year to hold the line and provide the same level of service to tax payers despite recent economic challenges,” County Judge Joel Baker said.
Since 2008 sales tax revenue has decreased by 8.62% or $1.4 million and fines & fees have decreased by 8.42% or $1 million. Interest earnings have decreased by 93% or $1.45 million since 2007.
Last year the Smith County Commissioners Court reduced retirement benefits and eliminated 33 positions to cut the budget by $9.2 million. The 2012 budget holds services steady without creating any new positions. Base salaries and benefits for Smith County employees are still frozen and the budget only allows for the absolute minimum amount of equipment purchases necessary in the upcoming fiscal year.
Judge Baker credits several accomplishments in 2011 with contributing to the stable state of the county.
“We have focused efforts on maintenance programs to extend the life of assets, continued planning efforts to resolve the jail overcrowding issue, developed a comprehensive 5 year Capital Improvement Plan and started the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee and Cooperative Purchasing programs.” Judge Baker said. “We are focusing our efforts on responsible fiscal planning for the future.”
Information from Smith County