Wichita County Commissioners approve 2020 budget and tax rate increase

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WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — After several public hearings, work sessions and a revised publication reflecting a desired two-cent increase, Wichita County has now adopted the 2020 tax rate and budget. It will cost, for example, about $37.44 on a home valued at $100,000.

Commissioners could have kept the rate the same as last year at more than $.65. But after miscalculated tax rate publication deadlines and looking at the balance of the permanent improvement fund, below $2 million, among other factors, it was decided that if approved, the county tax rate would be set at more than $.67.

“We did several construction projects, we did the big thing which was over two million dollars, which was to redo the HVAC systems in the courthouse and the annex. But, the energy savings will eventually reduce and should pay back over a 20 year period, about the time they have to be replaced again,” Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom said.

The tax rate will also help with elevator renovations at the courthouse itself, plus pay salaries and do more.

Starting next year, however, increases like the almost 6% increase won’t be able to made by the commissioners court itself.

“The legislature has reduced local governments to a limit of counties to 3.5% increase or an automatic election,” Gossom said.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Mark Beauchamp was the lone dissenting vote Monday. He said he voted as he did due to how certain salary issues were addressed, as well as wanting to advocate for holding the line on taxes.

“I understand why we did what we did. I couldn’t… knowing my goal going in was to keep the tax rate set at where we were at or below… I couldn’t agree to that,” Commissioner Beauchamp said.

Despite Beauchamp’s vote, the majority rules and has now set the county’s budgeting in motion.

Judge Gossom also said without any other revenue coming in, the county could hit the $.80 cent tax cap in about eight years, which could result in reductions in some county services. Gossom added that could be avoided with the creation of county assistance district, keeping about $1 million dollars annually in the county, but voters have voted that idea down– twice.

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