JUDGE: County working on budget, plans tax rate reduction
Every year, Milam County, along with most other taxing entities is required to set a balanced budget for the following year.
We have been working on the 2023 budget for some time and a proposed budget is now posted on the Milam County web page for public viewing. The county budget is just like a household budget; there never is enough money to go around. The Milam County budget has really been hard hit over the years by the loss of the revenue from Alcoa and Luminant. The revenue from those two employers has never been replaced.
However, this year there has been a large increase in property valuations and therefore our tax revenues have increased. Because of the increased property values, we are planning to reduce the Milam County property tax rate from .73 per $100 of valuation to .684100 per $100 of evaluation. This is the first tax rate reduction in over a decade!
The county will raise about $1.9 million more than the previous year, which will help with many county needs. For example, we plan to use a portion of the funds to establish new positions in the Sheriff’s office and the District Attorney’s office. We plan to give the employee’s and the elected officials a much-needed raise.
With the exception of some increases for the Sheriff’s department in 2020, Milam County employees have received a meager estimated annual 1 percent pay increase in the last 10 years. According to the Texas Association of Counties, Milam County elected officials are either the lowest paid or close to the lowest paid, of the 29 similarly populated counties in Texas. They all need a raise. We must take care of those that take care of us!
While $1.9 million sounds like a lot of money, it is only about 8 percent of the overall budget. Of the $1.9 million, 35 percent or about $665,000 will go directly to the precinct road and bridge funds. These funds are sorely needed to continue the ongoing, never ending work of maintaining the estimated 800 miles of county roads. The rest of the increase is placed in the general fund, which pays for most all other county expenses, including salaries and benefits.
We have great people working for you in Milam County government. Salt of the earth people who work diligently every day to perform the many obvious and not so obvious tasks of county government. People that come to work every day to make sure that road work, court work, record keeping work, medical work, keeping the peace work and much more, is properly done for the common good of our county. It is high time we do a little more in this budget cycle to let them know we all appreciate what they do!