Denton County officials on Tuesday approved the budget and slight bump in the tax rate for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
Commissioners unanimously approved the $210.5 million budget and what they say is the best budget plan for the county for the next year.
“Donna [Stewart] gave a good wrap-up there at the end, that we ended up with a sound financial plan for the county with sufficient funds for departments to do what they are required to do,” County Judge Mary Horn said. She also called this year’s budget very frugal.Commissioners approved a property tax rate of 28.2867 cents per $100 in property valuation.
According to Stewart, the county budget officer, the budget will raise $5,703,549 more in total property taxes than last year’s budget. Of that amount, a little more than $3 million will come from tax revenue on new property added to the tax rolls.
The budget added money for a new position in technology services and $71,000 in contract labor money. It also allowed for the reclassification of several positions.
The budget also includes a 2.5 percent pay raise for all eligible employees hired before April 1 who had successful evaluations.
The tax rate for this fiscal year is 27.7357 cents per $100 property valuation. The 2012-13 tax rate would mean that the owner of a $100,000 property would pay a county tax bill of $282.87, up $5.51 from the previous year.
“The half-cent increase is predominantly for road and bridge projects that were voter approved,” Horn said. “We still have the bids coming in at lower than anticipated cost at 20-25 percent. It’s a good time to invest those taxpayer dollars.”
Commissioners also voted on the insurance premium plan for the upcoming fiscal year.
The county offers two insurance choices for employees: a preferred provider organization and an exclusive provider organization. Premiums for the EPO are more expensive than the PPO.
The court opted for a plan that would see the cost to full-time employees increase by about 5 percent for family coverage on either the EPO or PPO plan, but with the county paying the same percentage of the premium as before.
During discussion, Commissioner Hugh Coleman called for greater education for the public and the employees on the raises and insurance rates.
“A point I was trying to make is we have a lot of consternation regarding giving our employees raises,” he said. “They hear they will get a raise, but based on the fact we follow it up with a health insurance raise, it results in hurt feelings on either side.”
Coleman said he knows it was late in the budget cycle to really deal with his concerns and hopes next time discussion of premiums can take place earlier in the budget process.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .