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Newly approved WilCo budget adds 41 employees, slightly reduces tax rate

The Williamson County Commissioners Court approved its 2019-2020 budget of $393,843,886 on Tuesday.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas — The Williamson County Commissioners Court on Tuesday adopted their budget for fiscal year 2019-2020, amounting to $393,843,886.

That budget will fund the addition of 41 new employees, including 15 for public safety which includes EMS, Emergency Services, and Sheriff’s Office – both Law Enforcement and Corrections. It also funds six new employees for the Parks and Recreation Department, as the River Ranch County Park is set to open next year. The funds will also help provide seven employees to the Information Technology Department and three for Facilities.

“I am pleased that this year’s budget addresses the needs and demands of our growing county, providing essential services and slightly reducing the tax rate,” said Precinct Two Commissioner Cynthia Long.

The new budget also includes an increase to the Emergency Communications budget for compensation and training.

“Providing for the public safety of our citizens is our top priority. We added more personnel to this area than to any other. We also are addressing needed pay increases for Emergency Communications dispatchers who are the first to help those in crisis,” said County Judge Bill Gravell. “In addition, we made changes to our judicial system to help individuals receive quick and fair justice through our new pre-trial process. Caring for the public will always be our top priority.”

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The budget also allows for pay increases – 3% for elected officials and a 4% merit pool for civilian employees not on the Law Enforcement or Corrections pay charts. All Corrections and Law Enforcement officers will receive a 2 to 2.25% step increase based on tenure pay grade step charts at a cost of $653,460. 

“Williamson County is the fifth fastest-growing county in Texas, so providing essential services to our growing county is extremely important. This budget includes six EMS paramedics to staff a new fire station for ESD #3 in Hutto. This station will help us maintain our response times as the county continues to grow,” said Precinct Four Commissioner Russ Boles.

Overall, the county budget is made up of three funds:

  • The General Fund budget was set at $221,049,620, which is a 3.5% increase over last year’s budget. 
  • The FY 2019-2020 budget for the Road & Bridge Fund is $45,052,060. 
  • The Debt Service Fund budget, which repays bonds and includes $42 million in early debt payments, was approved at $127,742,206.

The overall county tax rate was set at $0.458719 per $100 valuation. This comes after two public hearings regarding the tax rate were held on Aug. 13 and 20. The Commissioners Court adopted a General Fund tax rate of $0.251529 per $100 valuation. The Road and Bridge tax rate stays the same at $0.04, and the Debt Service tax rate was reduced to $0.16719.

“I think that we have done a good job of meeting the needs of our citizens and addressing transportation and safety priorities, while also being fiscally responsible and paying off $42 million in debt early, saving the taxpayers money in interest," Precinct Three Commissioner Valerie Covey said. "We have done all of this and been able to adopt a tax rate that is a year ahead of Senate Bill 2, also known as the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019, taking effect.”

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“The biggest impact of this budget may be in the judicial arena with the addition of a Pre-trial Services Department," said Precinct One Commissioner Terry Cook. "Its mission will be to move low-level criminal defendants, who are still innocent until proven guilty, out of jail sooner. This reduces the cost for incarceration to the taxpayer and allows them to keep their jobs and provide for their respective families prior to guilt or innocence being determined. This is a huge step for Williamson County, and I couldn’t be prouder that we took this step forward.”

The county is expected to end the fiscal year with an estimated $97.3 million in uncommitted general fund cash reserves and $21.2 million in Road and Bridge fund uncommitted cash reserves, according to Williamson County First Assistant County Auditor Julie Kiley.

The budget is slated to be filed no later than Sept. 30. It will be available to be viewed at the County Clerk's Office in the Justice Center at 405 MLK in Georgetown, or online.

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