County tax rolls rise

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Denton County and many of its cities and school districts saw growth of 10 percent or more in their tax rolls this year, according to certified totals released this week by the Denton Central Appraisal District.

This year, Trophy Club joined 10 other Denton County cities with at least $1 billion in taxable value from homes, businesses and minerals.

The growth in the tax rolls might have meant a little relief for some Denton taxpayers, with the city and county likely to hold the line on a tax rate increase this year. But the Denton school district is proposing an increase.

Even mineral values inched up a bit this year, with an increase of about $200 million. More than $16 million of that new value came from oil and gas wells and their associated equipment in the Denton city limits.

Overall, mineral values have been sliding down from a peak of $2.7 billion in 2006. Down 42 percent since then, the $1.6 billion figure for 2014 makes up about 2.5 percent of the county’s total tax base.

Even with the adjustments between the preliminary and the final numbers, County Judge Mary Horn anticipates a small drop in the county property tax rate.

Horn said the county budget officer, Donna Stewart, always recommends a conservative approach when putting the upcoming budget together, so however the certified values come out, county officials adjust.

Rudy Durham, chief appraiser for the Denton Central Appraisal District, said values for the city of Pilot Point went down 1 percent and for the city of Justin, 0.3 percent.

“So it’s not everybody’s boom time,” Durham said.

 

The county is still seeing building permits, new lots coming into development and existing home sales going up, so the growth will continue at least for another year, Durham said.

Denton city staff members have recommended that the city not go through with a 1-cent increase planned for this year. Bryan Langley, an assistant city manager, said some of the city’s 12 percent tax roll increase came from new businesses, homes and apartments.

“We had around $200 million in new construction last year,” Langley said.

The rest of the increase, about $600 million, came on existing properties, he said.

“That’s further evidence of a strengthening economy,” Langley said.

City leaders and the Denton school board will discuss the certified values as part of budget talks planned for next week.

City leaders have a budget workshop planned for Thursday.

The Denton school board will discuss the values at a meeting Tuesday.

Denton school district officials are proposing that the debt tax rate increase from 49 cents to 50 cents per $100 valuation. Fifty cents is the maximum the district can ask homeowners to pay toward debt obligations. The 1-cent increase is projected to generate an additional $5.2 million in property tax revenue, according to district officials. For a home valued at $100,000, that equates to a $10 annual increase in the tax bill.

The tax rate must be adopted by the school board before the end of September. The school board is expected to adopt the tax rate Sept. 9.

Debbie Monschke, the district’s executive director of budget and finance, previously projected that Denton would see a $600 million valuation increase.

Anything above the $600 million valuation increase gives the district flexibility in meeting additional needs not covered in the budget adopted last month, she said.

Monschke has said that for the district to remain at a debt tax rate of 49 cents per $100 valuation and still cover its debt obligations, the district would have to see a valuation growth between $270 million and $300 million.

District officials and board members have argued a 1-cent tax rate increase could support 2013 bond projects and generate enough revenue to pay off the district’s debt sooner.

Staff writers Britney Tabor and Bj Lewis contributed to this report.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.


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