Bexar County claims no property tax increase in proposed budget

Bexar County Commissioners received a staff briefing on the county’s proposed balanced $ 2.8 billion budget at their meeting on Tuesday. The budget provides for no new property taxes and an increase for county employees.

County officials said that due to the new real estate development, property tax revenues were on the rise, so an increase in the tax rate was not needed to fund the budget. The property tax rate would remain the same at 30 cents per $ 100 of assessment.

County officials said this was the 27th year in a row that commissioners have maintained the line on raising or lowering taxes.

The budget adds additional court staff to deal with a wave of domestic violence cases during the pandemic. It funds four other response teams trained for mental health 911 calls under the new Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternative Response Teams (SMART) program. The program aims to prevent lethal force against people in mental health crisis. And that pays seven new deputy police officers for each county constituency – four would protect parks and three would serve court documents.

It sets aside $ 197 million for roads, including the reconstruction of residential streets. It is spending $ 130 million on 12 flood control projects and $ 227 million on 27 streams and trails.

It also proposes a 5% salary increase for all county employees except judges. County commissioners are also included. Their annual salaries are in the order of $ 140,000, including a vehicle allowance of $ 9,000.

County Judge Nelson Wolff earns $ 172,000 a year.

County commissioner Trish DeBerry has said she will be stepping down from the pay hike.

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Bexar County Commissioner Trish DeBerry speaks at a meeting.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for elected officials to agree to a raise at this time, so thank you,” DeBerry said at the commissioner’s meeting.

She said she rejected the pay rise due to economic suffering during the pandemic. Elected officials and other county employees will receive the pay increase automatically unless they opt out.

The budget includes a one-time flat-rate bonus for hourly county employees. Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores said she would like to see a higher premium for these workers.

“When you divide that by 24 paychecks, you don’t feel it as much every two weeks,” she told her fellow commissioners.

Commissioners plan to tweak the budget ahead of a public hearing and its passage on September 14.

Commissioner DeBerry ordered county staff to return next month with a county and hospital district homestead exemption that provides better tax relief. She said the average home selling price rose 18% last year and home valuations rose 7%.

Such an exemption could not apply to property taxes at the earliest before the following fiscal year.

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