Williamson County officials are currently proposing a tax increase on property owners and a bond election that will result in higher taxes as well.
“Williamson County is the fifth fastest-growing county in the state of Texas. Through our long-range transportation plan, we have a path set to address that growth,” County Judge Bill Gravell said in a news release. “Transportation safety and mobility, whether through roads or trails, is important to maintaining the outstanding quality of life we enjoy in Williamson County.”
Gravell and the Williamson County Commissioners Court are asking voters to approve $412 million in additional debt for road improvements and $35 million for additional parks and recreation projects. In asking citizens to approve the bond, county officials are claiming its passage will not increase the tax rate—a statement that’s certainly factual, but it’s not the entire picture.
Currently, Williamson County collects a 16.75 cent tax per $100 valuation in order to pay for debt service. If the bond were to pass, that rate would remain the same; but if it were to be rejected by voters, taxes would eventually go down.
Because of the economic and population growth in the county, the tax rate needed to pay the existing debt is declining—a good sign and an opportunity for citizens to get some tax relief.
Yet instead of allowing the tax rate to drop and providing some relief, county officials are currently proposing to keep it at the higher rate and add more debt—meaning that the bond election does, in fact, raise taxes on property owners.
Taxpayers face a similar refrain regarding the county’s regular tax rate. Williamson County currently taxes at a tax rate of 45.9 cents per $100 valuation. Commissioners are currently proposing to keep that rate the same as last year’s rate despite the effective tax rate dropping about a penny and a half to 44.4 cents.
And that penny-and-a-half difference means the county will rake in an estimated $10.5 million more from existing taxpayers than last year, a fact admitted in the proposed budget.
“This budget will raise more property tax revenue than last year’s budget by $21,364,867, a 7.2 percent increase and, of that amount, $10,894,084 is tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year,” reads the county budget documents.
In other words, Williamson County is on track to get $10.9 million more “bonus” cash from growth (or new properties) now paying taxes. In addition to that new tax revenue, commissioners are proposing to take more money—roughly $10 million—from existing taxpayers through a tax increase.
As property values rise, taxing entities must lower their tax rate to prevent residents from paying a larger tax bill. Failure to lower tax rates is the direct cause of tax hikes and is precisely why “keeping the tax rate the same” by asking for more bond debt is, in fact, a tax increase.
And that doesn’t even include the bond election. If the bond passes, that will force property owners to pay still more in taxes. Here’s how you can get involved.
Regarding the tax increase:
Property owners can make their voice heard on the tax rate at the county courthouse in Georgetown on Tuesday, August 20 at 10 a.m.
Regarding the bond election:
Voters can begin heading to the polls on Monday, October 21, with election day on Tuesday, November 5. A map of the county’s proposed bond projects can be viewed here.