Following a last-minute decrease to the debt service rate, the Parker County commissioners court was able to maintain the same tax rate for the 2020-21 fiscal year and adopt it unanimously Monday morning.
The maintenance and operations rate was adopted at $0.204 per $100 valuation and the lateral road rate was adopted at $0.073 per $100 valuation.
“[Maintenance and operations] is essentially about a cent and a half less than what our current rate is of $0.219,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden said.
The debt service tax rate was proposed at $0.082; however, it was adjusted to $0.079 during the meeting, which was still an increase to the 2019-20 rate but still brought the total overall tax rate to the same rate of $0.358.
“Our debt service for the coming year increased from $8.7 million to about $10.8 million, which is an increase of $2 million, so we could lower the debt rate just a little and this would match the total current rate that we’re at now and still provide enough to cover our debt service based on the revenue projections and what we have in fund balance,” Parker County Auditor Brianna Fowler said. “So to keep the overall rate, we could reduce the debt rate a little bit, but it still shows that it would generate enough revenue to cover our debt service and then on top of that, we do have additional fund balance, should we need it for debt service.”
Two required public hearings were held at Monday’s meeting, one for the 2020-21 budget and the tax rate.
“I went on your website and I have been vocal pretty well about everything having to do with tax rates, essentially, and I’m coming here to thank you for what you have done to hold your tax rates at what they are. We have two taxing entities that have taken an opportunity, even in the situation with COVID and a lot of people being impacted, and are increasing to the maximum right under the voter-required rates. I think that’s unfortunate at this time,” Weatherford resident Richard Heizer said. “I want to thank each of you and I know it’s hard because you have so many things you’re dealing with. I just want to thank this court and individually the commissioners and judge for holding the line, especially in a year that’s difficult for a lot of people.”
The 2020-21 budget has not yet been adopted and action will be taken on it at a future commissioners court meeting.
“Our sales tax is healthy, which shows a thriving economy — even in the midst of a pandemic that we’re continuing to deal with and hopefully now leveling out," Parker County Judge Pat Deen said. "This court has been very proactive in seeking out and looking at ways we can continue to improve that and while internal revenues in our court system has dropped, we continue to have a healthy budget this season and these rates reflect that.
“It has not been an easy situation at all, but I think the outcome of this will be a good budget. We’re going to be very sensitive about impacting people who have been out of work and I think that you’ll find it will be a budget that we will not dig deeper into your pocket and maintain conservative values.”