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Bexar County Touts No Property Tax Increase In Proposed Budget

Ryan Loyd
Texas Public Radio

Bexar County Commissioners received a staff briefing on the county's proposed $2.8 billion balanced budget during their Tuesday meeting. The budget calls for no new property taxes and a raise for county employees.

County officials said due to new property development, property tax revenue is on the rise, so a hike in the tax rate is not needed to fund the budget. The property tax rate would remain the same at 30 cents per $100 valuation.

County officials said it's the 27th consecutive year commissioners have held the line on increased taxes or lowered them.

The budget adds additional court personnel to deal with a surge of domestic violence cases during the pandemic. It funds four more trained response teams for 911 mental health calls under the new Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternate Response Teams (SMART) program. The program aims to prevent deadly force against individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. And it pays for seven new deputy constables for each county precinct — four would protect parks and three would serve court papers.

It sets aside $197 million for roads, including residential street reconstruction. It spends $130 million on 12 flood control projects and $227 million on 27 creeks and trails.

Pay Raise For County Employees

The budget also proposes a 5% pay raise for all county employees, except for judges. County Commissioners are also included. Their annual salaries are in the $140,000 range, including a $9,000 vehicle allowance.

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

County Commissioner Trish DeBerry said she would opt out of the pay raise.

Bexar County Commissioner Trish DeBerry speaks at a meeting.
Bexar County
Bexar County Commissioner Trish DeBerry speaks at a meeting.

"I don't think it's appropriate for elected officials to be accepting a pay raise right now, so thank you," DeBerry said during the commissioner's meeting.

She said she rejected the pay raise because of the economic suffering during the pandemic. Elected officials and other county employees will receive the pay raise automatically unless they opt out.

The budget includes a one-time lump sum bonus to hourly county employees. Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores said she would like to see a bigger bonus for those workers.

"When you divide that by 24 paychecks, you don't feel it as much every two weeks," she told fellow commissioners.

Commissioners plan to tweak the budget before a public hearing and adoption on Sept. 14.

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

Such an exemption could not be applied to property taxes at the earliest until the next fiscal year.

University Health Budget

The commissioners also set the property tax rate and held a public hearing for the University Health budget for the next fiscal year, which its CEO said will be challenging.

Commissioners set the tax rate at 27 cents per $100 valuation to fund the budget still being hammered out. The public hearing with adoption to follow is Sept. 14. Last year's budget came in at more than $2 billion.

CEO George Hernandez Junior said UH faces some challenges in the year ahead related to the future of Medicaid supplemental payment programs as well as several other items that will impact the 2022 operating budget. The primary areas of concern affecting financial performance in 2022 and beyond include:

  • The impact of the delta variant on Health System staffing and operations
  • Health care worker shortages and increased labor costs
  • Planned elimination of Federal financial assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic — loss of $51 million in funding
  • Changes in supplemental funding programs related to the Texas 1115 Waiver, primarily the elimination of the Delivery System Reform Incentive Program (DSRIP) loss of $82 million in funding
  • Rebound in demand for non-COVID-19 health care services

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