WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — A week before the new county budget and tax rate is adopted, it seems Wichita County Commissioners Court may be split on some things.
By a preliminary vote of three to two, Commissioners Mickey Fincannon, Barry Mahler and Jeff Watts voted against the two cent proposed tax rate increase.
But there are plenty of decisions that go into figuring out the budget and tax rate of an entire county.
“Every little bit counts and we’re going to use every bit of it as best as we can,” Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom said.
Property values in Wichita County went up this last year, which lowers the county tax rate by three cents total.
But as of now, it’s proposed to add two cents back on for renovation projects to the county courthouse and annex, as well as raises for employees across the board for the first time in three years.
“So those were two important factors for us moving forward and I think they are easily accomplished with the no new revenue rate that we have calculated,” Wichita County Precinct Four Commissioner Watts said.
But Watts is pushing to go lower than the 63-cents proposed no new revenue tax rate, along with Fincannon and Mahler, all voting against the proposed number in a preliminary vote a week before the official meeting.
“I’m not saying that all of us are, we’re definitely not against spending the money to run the budget, but we have to be very concern about how much we’re raising taxes,” Wichita County Precinct Two Commissioner Fincannon said.
As they push for a 61 cent no new revenue tax rate, Watts added between $4 million the county is carrying over and with their figure, they can still make it work.
“In my mind, it’s not our duty to build CDs, it’s to tax Wichita County citizens and to do things for those citizens out of that tax rate and if we’re going to hang on to that money or not spend that money, then cut the rate,” Watts said.
While Gossom is still optimistic they’ll work it out, considering that the currently proposed number is still one penny lower than last year.
“While those are year to year things, we feel like we’ve got some ways to replace that money and not have to necessarily draw on taxpayers to pay that,” Gossom said.
But with a nearly $60 million budget, many decisions have to be made that affect thousands across the county.
“I don’t know if right now is the right time to add 2 pennies on our budget and if we have leftover resources from the year before, let’s use that and put less burden on the taxpayers,” Fincannon said.
And commissioners court will officially vote to adopt the 2022 budget and tax rate during a meeting next Monday, September 20th, at 10 a.m.