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The Williamson County Commissioners Court unanimously adopted a $393.8 million budget this week, a move which will increase the average homeowner’s property tax bill.

The budget, which is broken down into $221.05 million in general spending, $45.05 million for roads and bridges, and $127.7 million for debt service, is an increase of nearly 10 percent from last year’s budget of $364.5 million.

To pay for all of this, commissioners adopted a tax rate of $0.458719 per $100 valuation.

That’s a decline from last year’s rate of $0.45929, but it’s also higher than the effective tax rate—meaning despite commissioners “lowering the rate,” they’re still raising property taxes.

Estimates show the average Williamson County homeowner, who is already severely over-taxed, will be on the hook for roughly $45 more in the coming year. This is despite Williamson County anticipating a windfall of nearly $11 million in revenue from new properties being added to the tax rolls.

While taxpayers can’t exactly look forward to higher tax bills, they should acknowledge that County Judge Bill Gravell and the commissioners court originally proposed to keep the rate the same as last year’s, which would have raised taxes even more.

That desire was pared back by a decision to comply with the Texas Legislature’s recently passed property tax reform bill, Senate Bill 2, which only allows local governments to raise taxes by less 3.5 percent without securing permission from voters.

“I think that we have done a good job of meeting the needs of our citizens and addressing transportation and safety priorities, while also being fiscally responsible and paying off $42 million in debt early, saving the tax payers money in interest,” said Precinct Three Commissioner Valerie Covey. “We have done all of this and been able to adopt a tax rate that is a year ahead of Senate Bill 2, also known as the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019, taking effect.”

Gravell agreed, saying that by complying with the law early, the county would learn to live within its means.

Perhaps it more accurately means that if citizens want property taxes to actually fall, they’ll need to be further engaged with their elected officials.