Denton County property values have exceeded some early guesses by county officials.
The certified tax rolls, released Tuesday, totaled a little more than $54.5 billion, up 2.05 percent from 2011.
The figures were welcome information for county officials as they work through the budget for the next fiscal year.
“I guesstimated about one and a half and it’s about two,” County Judge Mary Horn said of the increase. “So that’s better than the other way around.”
Horn neglected to say much on how the figures will factor into the budget until the last piece of the financial puzzle is in — railroad rolling stock.
“We are hoping we can have that number by next week, but I would not be surprised if we didn’t,” she said.
The city of Denton’s 4.75 percent increase in the city’s tax base was more than the 3 percent increase the staff had projected earlier this summer, said Bryan Langley, the city of Denton’s finance director.
Preliminary reports from the appraisal district from the last few weeks showed the city might see more than 4 percent, but the final number was higher, Langley said.
When the Denton City Council meets next week for a half-day budget workshop, the management team will present options for what could be done with the additional revenue, Langley said.
Denton school district Superintendent Jamie Wilson said Tuesday he had not had an opportunity to review the certified tax rolls. If totals paralleled projections the district has seen the last few weeks, he said the total would have a significant impact on the interest and sinking portion of the district budget, which is funded completely with local revenue.
An increase in property values would allow the district to pay down debt earlier and provide more flexibility, Wilson said.
Values in the Denton school district increased 3.82 percent.
As a result of last year’s increase in certified values, the Denton school district had the bond capacity to approve the sale of $40 million in bonds for construction of a seventh middle school, which is slated to open in the fall of 2013 in Shady Shores.
Since the maintenance and operations portion of the budget is funded with state, federal and local revenue, the values don’t have as significant an effect, Wilson said. As values drop, the district receives more in state funding and vice versa.
Krum school officials, when adopting the 2012-13 budget in June, projected a decrease in values. Certified totals revealed Tuesday show values for the district have dropped about 5 percent. Superintendent Mike Davis has said once certified totals are known, the district would evaluate whether it could make its debt service payments. The fund would be offset with reserves. Davis, who was unavailable for comment Tuesday, said last month he didn’t anticipate a change in Krum’s $1.54 per $100 valuation tax rate.
Horn is cautiously optimistic about being able to pull Denton County’s budget together fairly quickly, she said.
“We’re still in an information gathering mode for some of these appeals, but to be at the end of July and we have a recommended budget and we have a limited number of appeals, things are coming together really well.”
Horn said officials still have to talk about salaries as well as a few reclassifications. Horn said she had told the human resources director that the court was not going to entertain reclassification requests this year.
Commissioners heard appeals from a handful of departments Tuesday, including a couple of constables, county jail officials, technology services staff and a probate judge.
Horn said she wanted to look at what some of the departments were asking for such as training, which a few departments asked for in this round of appeals, versus what they actually spent.
“Obviously we want to give people what they need for training and staff, but you don’t want to create a pool of money for them to take from,” she said. “For the most part people have been pretty good at that.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is email@example.com .
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
CERTIFIED PROPERTY VALUES
Here is a comparison of the certified tax rolls from 2011 and 2012 for several Denton County cities and school districts and the percentage of increase or decrease.