Typical Travis homeowner to pay $32 more under new county budget


Travis County Commissioners Court approves a $1.04 billion budget.

Tax rate of 36.90 cents per $100 of taxable value is lower than last year’s rate of 38.38 cents.

But rising property values will still mean most tax bills will be higher.

The average Travis County homeowner will pay about $32 more in county taxes than last year.

Travis County commissioners on Tuesday approved a $1.04 billion budget and a tax rate of 36.90 cents per $100 of taxable value.

While that’s lower than last year’s rate of 38.38 cents, it’s higher than the 35.68-cent tax rate that the county would need to charge to raise the same amount of money as this past year, once rising property values are factored in.

For the owner of the average $305,173 home, the rate approved Tuesday will translate to a tax bill of about $1,126.09, up from last year’s bill of $1,094.41.

County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said Tuesday that she was “very pleased” with the approved budget and tax rate, which the Commissioners Court approved unanimously.

“Since 2014, the real tax burden on the average taxpayer has only risen by less than 3 percent,” Eckhardt said. “(The budget) has grown appropriately with our population growth, and we are being prudent with the resources.”

NEXT UP: Travis voters to decide in November on $185 million bond package for parks, roads, drainage

The county budget includes a general fund of $749 million, up 6.8 percent from last year’s $701 million. The budget also includes $93 million in debt service for debt that’s already been issued.

The spending plan includes about $2.2 million for the county clerk for upcoming elections, about $1.8 million for jail inmate services, including supplies and staff, and about $1 million for Balcones Canyonland preservation, plus capital improvement projects.

Capital improvement projects include $3.6 million to add a second story to the Travis County Tax Office building at 5501 Airport Blvd. and expand the office, $2.2 million for annual road maintenance and construction, $1.7 million for correctional building maintenance at Del Valle, and $1 million to replace radios in the county’s emergency services department.

About $56.7 million is set to be issued with certificates of obligation, or bonds that don’t require voter approval.

The county could be borrowing more in the near future if voters in November approve a $185 million bond package for parks, roads and drainage projects. If the bond package passes, officials have said it will cost the average taxable homestead about $24 a year once all the debt is issued in 2023.

One project to be funded by $18.8 million in certificates of obligation in this year’s budget is the initial construction phase of the former federal courthouse, which the county acquired from the federal government in December to use for a probate court expansion.

Another project, $6.6 million for the design and construction preparation for a new facility for women at the Travis County Correctional Complex, drew concerns from several criminal justice system reform advocates.

County officials said the current facility lacks space and cannot meet the growing numbers of female inmates, including those needing extra security and those with medical and mental health needs.

Advocates on Tuesday argued that funding for better pretrial and preventative programs and services that could decrease the inmate population should take priority over simply increasing jail capacity.

“Even with the greatest of resources, jail sets people back,” said Ranjana Natarajan, director of the Civil Rights Clinic at the University of Texas’ School of Law. “Let’s not build more and more jail beds — (because) we will fill them.”

Eckhardt stressed that overall jail capacity would not increase under the proposed project. Rather, more of the current capacity would be allocated to women.

She said that she planned to set up a meeting with the advocates’ groups and county officials to discuss the issue. The project is still in preliminary planning stages, she said, and there is still time to make adjustments according to their feedback.

Commissioner Gerald Daugherty suggested ongoing feedback meetings led by the county’s Justice Planning Department could improve communication.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Politics

Susan Pompeo’s role as ‘first lady of the CIA’ draws critics, defenders
Susan Pompeo’s role as ‘first lady of the CIA’ draws critics, defenders

Susan Pompeo, the wife of Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, has taken an unusually active and prominent role at the organization, and has fashioned herself as an unofficial "first lady of the CIA," according to people with knowledge of her activities.  Pompeo, who is a volunteer at the CIA, uses office space on the seventh-floor...
Trump may reshuffle legal team to take on Mueller more aggressively
Trump may reshuffle legal team to take on Mueller more aggressively

President Donald Trump’s legal team was poised for a shake-up on Monday, according to two people briefed on the matter, as he openly discussed firing one of his lawyers, another considered resigning and a third — who pushed theories on television that Trump was framed by the FBI — joined the roster.  Trump has weighed aloud in...
How Kushner forged a bond with the Saudi crown prince
How Kushner forged a bond with the Saudi crown prince

One year ago, two young princes began to forge a friendship at a lunch meeting in the White House's regal State Dining Room.  A snowstorm had kept away President Donald Trump's scheduled guest that day, German Chancellor Angela Merkel — giving the president and his advisers, including son-in-law Jared Kushner, more time to spend with the...
Trump-linked political data firm offered to entrap politicians
Trump-linked political data firm offered to entrap politicians

Sitting in a hotel bar, Alexander Nix, who runs the political data firm Cambridge Analytica, had a few ideas for a prospective client looking for help in a foreign election. The firm could send an attractive woman to seduce a rival candidate and secretly videotape the encounter, Nix said, or send someone posing as a wealthy land developer to pass a...
‘You will not destroy America’: A Trump battle is no longer one-sided
‘You will not destroy America’: A Trump battle is no longer one-sided

Usually, top intelligence and law enforcement officials withdraw to lives of tight-lipped relative anonymity after their careers end. (Suffice it to say, they are not exactly known for viral Twitter battles.)  But as President Donald Trump has voiced his grievances against the FBI with a series of insult-laden tweets, his targets have responded...
More Stories