Proposed tax rate increase for Wichita Co. set for publication after original publication of no increase

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — After publishing an unchanged tax rate from the year before and then reassessing the need for money to pay for improvements and other costs, Wichita County is now proposing a $0.02 increase over the current budget.

Last year’s property tax rate was set at $0.6571 cents per $100 valuation and what was first posted for the next budget looked to be the same as this year.

Now, it’s being proposed at just over $0.67 cents.

Wichita County Tax Assessor Tommy Smyth expressed his concerns about the new rate, saying the change to the higher rate did not seem to be made in an open and transparent fashion. The notice of the one rate published Tuesday was then changed to a higher rate and is set to be published Saturday.

Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom said deadlines needing to be met for publication on the tax rate were miscalculated and they had to get the proposed rate published. It was after that the judge, Commissioner Jeff Watts, the county auditor, one of her colleagues and the county’s administrative assistant met. They looked at what projects had been done, leaving the permanent improvement fund below two million dollars.

They also looked at future projects, including more than a million dollars for elevator improvements, adding a possible third elevator, plus renovating the courthouse annex on Scott Street.

After the meeting, it was decided to publish the increased tax rate. Gossom said he’s being as transparent as possible and that it’s up to him to set the proposed budget.

“It’s the county judge’s budget. That’s by law,” Gossom said. “Some county judges do that totally in a vacuum. And I’ve always done it with a multiple number of meetings and everybody having a chance to talk.”

Gossom also said he didn’t feel he needed to go up to the maximum eight percent increase limit, but rather just the rate needed to put an additional million dollars into the permanent improvement fund.

Two public hearings are scheduled for the proposed budget. The first on Sept. 9 and the second on Sept. 12.

The final budget must be voted and approved by Sept. 23.

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