Brazos County Commissioners Approve Budget and Tax Rate

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Brazos County Commissioners have approved this year's budget, but it didn't come without a few disapproving remarks.
County Judge Randy Sims voted against the budget, which is roughly 5 percent higher than last year's, because of several amendments approved Tuesday morning.

Sims doesn't usually vote in opposition of county commissioners, but Tuesday morning it was the norm.

"We are treating elected officials now differently than we treat the rest of the courthouse and I truly do have a problem with that," Sims said.

This year's budget allocated a 5 percent raise for every Brazos County employee, but commissioners, excluding Sims, voted for a slew of amendments giving additional pay increases to some elected officials, including Constables and Justices of the Peace.

"If we don't make an adjustment then the chief deputy will be making the same amount that their boss, the constable, is making," Brazos County Precinct Two Commissioner Duane Peters said.

The proposed budget was $97.8 million, with the approved amendments for salary increases and several for future expansion, the budget was approved for $100.9 million.

"Five percent does not get anyone closer to anybody else because everybody gets 5 percent," Sims said. "I thought that we could wait until next year and we would address full fledged and full blown as to whether we need to go up in the salaries for the JPs and Constables. That is just my opinion and my opinion did not hold."

Last year's budget was just under $96 million, this years is roughly 5 percent higher. The money to cover the amendments will come from the county's fund balances.

Sims says he doesn't know whether the fund balance next year will be large enough to provide the same dollars to elected officials.
Commissioners will have a year to figure out the answer to that question.

Also, during commissioners court, County commissioners unanimously approved the proposed 45.5 cent tax rate.
It's a one-cent decrease from the current tax rate of 46.5 cents per $100 valuation, but it's still higher than the effective tax rate, 43.59 cents, that would be needed to keep homeowners' tax bills about the same.