© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Commissioners hear update on school property tax relief, jail overtime costs

Bexar County Courthouse
Brian Kirkpatrick
Bexar County Courthouse

Get TPR's best stories of the day and a jump start to the weekend with the 321 Newsletter — straight to your inbox every day. Sign up for it here.

Bexar County commissioners on Tuesday heard an update on state legislation that is expected to be passed to provide relief to local school property taxpayers.

The legislature is expected to send more than $12 billion to Texas school districts so they can cut their property taxes across the board.

Melissa Shannon, the county's director of governmental affairs and watchdog on the state legislature's activities, was questioned by Precinct 1 Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores on how exactly the largest property tax relief in state history would work.

"They are providing more money to school districts to buy down taxes," she said.

"That's what they're saying. Hopefully, they'll do it," Clay-Flores replied.

The relief legislation will also increase the homestead property tax exemption from $40,000 to $100,000.

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt of Houston has said the average property taxpayer in Texas should see savings of nearly $1,400 a year.

In other action, Sheriff Javier Salazar asked commissioners to approve more than $3 million in overtime costs to staff the crowded jail from this past June through September, sparking more debate on how to reduce costs there.

Commissioners approved the overtime after much debate over how to curb the county's biggest drain on taxpayers, costing them tens of millions of dollars every year.

Salazar said retaining detention deputies is part of the problem. He said as much as 40% of the department could turn in their retirement papers tomorrow. He also claimed retaining younger detention deputies is a problem, citing one recent sudden resignation by a deputy who wanted to go home to tend to livestock.

The sheriff also said the jail is crowded with 500 mentally ill inmates — some waiting for transfers to state hospitals and some waiting for competency hearings to be tried in court.

He said a single inmate who is a harm to himself must be watched by a single deputy all day, further increasing overtime costs.

Commissioners are pushing the state for more mental health treatment beds to move mentally ill inmates out and to ease crowding at the jail.

In other action, commissioners:

  • Election judges: Approved the bi-annual appointment of election judges for the period of August 2023 through July 2025.
  • Probate court: Approved the creation of a search committee to fill the new Probate Court No. 3 Judge position.
  • Timberwood: Approved the re-allocation of funds from the American Recovery Plan Act for pressing water and sewer issues in the county. Precinct 3 Commissioner Grant Moody pushed for the measure after hearing complaints from residents in the Villas at Timberwood subdivision in North Bexar County. They said septic system drip lines were failing and creating bad odors and a public health threat. The residents also said those failing septic drip lines are close to Mustang Creek, causing an environmental threat. Moody said the county's environmental services department confirmed the residents' concerns and recommended the septic system be discontinued and replaced with a connection to a city sewer system.
  • New trail: Approved completion of the Culebra Creek Trail from the Grissom Road Trailhead to the Culebra Road Trailhead for an amount not to exceed $7.3 million. The project is part of the Creeks and Trails Capital Improvements Program between the county, City of San Antonio, and the San Antonio River Authority.
TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.