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The original item was published from 9/30/2015 9:41:03 AM to 10/1/2016 12:00:06 AM.

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Posted on: September 30, 2015

[ARCHIVED] 2016 BUDGET ADOPTED; NO TAX INCREASES FOR 14TH YEAR

Adoption of Budget_thumb.jpg

At Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioners Court adopted a 2016 Operating Budget of $189,235,754 and for the 14th consecutive year did not raise taxes, keeping the tax rate at 59 cents per $100 valuation.

At the recommendation of Hidalgo County Auditor Ray Eufracio, the Court voted to hold off on implementing pay raises for the Sheriff’s Office and on county departments' salary adjustments until after the second quarter, which shaved $1.7 million off the proposed budget.
The adopted 2016 Operating Budget includes a 3 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for all county employees – including the Sheriff’s Office.

Commissioners Court kept the ad valorem tax rate at 0.5900 cents per $100 valuation; the Maintenance and Operations Tax Rate at 0.5225 cents per $100 valuation; and the Debt Service tax rate of 0.0675 cents per $100 valuation.

The proposed budget had the county’s reserve fund at 10.03 percent. The county’s policy is to have a reserve fund of between 10 to 15 percent of the Operating Budget and the Court was concerned that a major event could bring the county’s reserve to under 10 percent. However, by delaying the Sheriff’s Office pay raises and departmental adjustments, such as reassignments and new positions, the county brought the reserve up to 11.01 percent.

The salary adjustments and Sheriff’s Office pay raises will be effective on July 1, however Commissioners Court has the option to implement them earlier if funds become available.
County Judge Ramon Garcia said he is confident that the county’s fund balance will remain strong and within policy, which is crucial in keeping a good bond rating. He added that traditionally, revenue projections are $7 to $9 million lower than actual revenues and that the reserve fund balance has grown from $702,648 when he took office in 2003 to $25,474,432.

“In 2011, the auditor projected $156,363,270 million and the actual revenue was $163,641,995 – which was $7.2 million below the actual revenue,” said Garcia. “In 2012 the auditor’s projection was about $7.2 million below the actual revenue. In 2013 it was $9,695,576 lower than the actual revenue. So I anticipate that this year’s revenue will be from $7 to $9 million above the projected amount.”

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