County approves budget built on a 3.5 percent tax decrease

Jerrie Whiteley, Herald Democrat
Grayson County Judge Bill Magers is pictured in Commissioners Court Tuesday. The court voted to adopt next year’s budget, which is built on a 3.5 percent tax decrease. (Jerrie Whiteley / Herald Democrat)

After weeks of talking it over and a public hearing which saw no member of the public come forward to speak Tuesday morning, the Grayson County Commissioners approved the 2018 budget. This year’s budget, Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said, is built on a 3.5 percent tax decrease and is the second such decrease in the last two years.

Altogether, Magers reminded everyone, the county has reduced taxes by 7 percent over the last two years. He said this year’s budget will have a slight deficit due to capital projects but that money will be taken out of the county’s capital improvement fund.

The 2018 budget, Grayson County Auditor Richey Rivers said, is built on the effective rate, or the rate at which the county will take in the same amount of money it did last year. That rate is 46.03 cents per $100 valuation of property. The budget also includes a 2 percent raise for county employees and 2 percent increase in rates for ambulance and fire services for the county in unincorporated areas.

The capital improvement projects earmarked for the 2018 budget include moving the Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Office from the Grayson County Justice Center to the county Courthouse. That move is expected to free up space for Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown and District Clerk Kelly Ashmore, whose offices will be remodeled.

Also included is getting the fourth floor of the Grayson County Courthouse ready for use by some of the Sheriff’s Office’s investigators.

“Rather than building new facilities, we are using the ones we have more efficiently, saving taxpayer dollars and making sure that we still have room to grow,” Magers said, add as the county continues to digitize records, it will have more space down the road.

“It is a pretty good budget we came up with this year and I will move to adopt it,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Whitmire said before Precinct 4 Commissioner Bart Lawrence seconded the motion. No one voted against the budget though Precinct 3 Commissioner Phyllis James and Precinct 2 Commissioner David Whitlock were both out Tuesday. James’s mother died over the weekend and Whitlock was serving as a pallbearer in a funeral.