Homeowners in Montgomery County will not see a skyrocketing increase in their county taxes for the first time in decades after the commissioners court adopted a projected budget that would lower the tax rate to the effective rate.
The effective tax rate is the rate at which taxes would remain the same as in the previous year when appraisal growth is factored in. In past years, Montgomery County has either raised the tax rate or kept it above the effective rate instead of lowering the rate to offset rising property values, resulting in year after year of tax increases for homeowners.
“This is a great budget that will put money back into the hands of every single homeowner,” said County Judge Mark Keough.
After a series of budget hearings, the commissioners put together a proposed budget of $337 million, which was trimmed down from the current budget of $344 million. The tax rate will go down from $0.4667 per $100 valuation to $0.4475, which is the effective rate.
Two major factors went into the change: First, citizens showed up and made their voices heard, forming a Citizens Budget Committee to study the budget and propose cuts. Although they did not get all of the cuts they wanted, and there is still waste in the new budget, they had a significant impact in helping cut spending.
The other factor was the replacement of the free-spending former County Judge Craig Doyal with Keough, who campaigned on lowering taxes and spending and has fought to follow through on those promises, despite facing resistance from most commissioners.
While conservatives are hailing the lower rate as a starting point, there is still plenty of work to be done. Commissioners voted to increase their own salaries and those of county employees, although Keough personally refused to take a salary increase.
“We stayed at the effective tax rate, but I think that’s where we need to be starting,” said Billy Graff, who is running for Precinct 1 Commissioner. “They need to keep going down from now on.”