Brazos County tax rate has potential to stall another month

KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 7:54 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Brazos County Commissioners have been under a watchful eye as they work to certify a new tax rate. But the approval has been delayed for weeks. Now, we’re learning of a new deadline that could drag this saga on for almost another month.

Initially, commissioners were working under the impression that if no vote happened on the proposed tax rate of $.48 by Sept. 30, then a “no new revenue” rate of $0.4294 would take effect. Due to a delay in property appraisals this past summer, the deadline to pass the new tax rate is 60 days after real estimates came out. Making the new deadline Oct. 21.

The tax rate proposed would increase resident taxes by around 15%, with additional appraisal values causing property owners to pay more in taxes. But, two commissioners say the county can do without that extra income.

Precinct 2 County Commissioner Russ Ford and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Steve Aldrich have been dodging meetings since early September. Their goal is to find a rate that would not raise taxes for residents.

“I believe that there is a rate around the $0.4435 rate, which would not raise any taxes for our citizens at all. It would give us more money in the budget. So, we’d have to take less out of the fund balance. And in all fairness, that’s my thought right now, I’m happy with the no new revenue rate. But I am willing to compromise up to a reasonable rate that doesn’t raise your taxes,” Ford said.

County Judge Duane Peters says if they are forced to impose the “no new revenue” rate, it will prevent the county from getting some things done.

“I know I hear people say, ‘well, my groceries are going up too.’ I understand, but this is the whole of Brazos County, this is everybody here that we’re talking about. And whether it’s roads or whether it’s the maintenance of buildings, or whether it’s, you know, sheriff deputies, or whatever it is. I think it will limit severely to what people expect the things that people expect we’re able to do,” Peters said.

Peters says he has scheduled a discussion, then action on Tuesday regarding the new tax rate, one cent lower than previously proposed. This is with hopes that the two missing commissioners will come to the table.

But with plans to attend a closed meeting Monday, Ford says the chance of attending the next one, seems bleak.

“I will be able to go to that workshop, I’m going to ask again, as I’ve asked him at least 10 occasions, ‘please, let’s compromise on this thing.’ The one-penny compromise it’s been offered is not effective and not going to work. But I do think that I could, in good faith compromise above the no new revenue rate,” Ford said.

With a seemingly stalemate in the court, Peters is unsure how something like this could happen.

“I’ve attended a lot of commissioners’ meetings. I’ve never seen anything like this, not in Brazos County. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve never really heard of it happening,” Peters said.

Ford is also trying to figure out how we got here and how a compromise will be able to happen in the next month.

“I think it really hurts their feelings that at least two of us, the minority, are now standing up and saying, ‘whoa, wait, please. We need to think about this. We don’t have to raise taxes right now,’” Ford said.

An open workshop will take place Monday, then an open meeting Tuesday. Agendas will be posted before the meeting and can be found here.