County expects property tax revenue loss

Preliminary estimates indicate DeWitt County is looking at its third consecutive year of over $1 billion reduction of appraised taxable values.

At Monday’s DeWitt County Commissioners Court meeting, Judge Daryl Fowler read an estimate of taxable values prepared by DeWitt County Appraisal District.

The report indicated total taxable values for the current fiscal year may only total $3.4 billion. That would be drop of about $2 billion from totals at this time last year.

The primary reason for the lower values can be seen in mineral (oil and gas) values. The report suggests the estimated mineral values to be $2.2 billion. That would compare to last year’s total of $3.9 billion and the 2015 total of $5.1 billion.

These estimated taxable values will not be finalized until early August. Once approved, they will be used to determine tax rates by the taxing entities throughout DeWitt County.

Judge Fowler emphasized the steps the county has taken since 2013 to maintain property tax revenue has allowed the county to establish a fund balance of $30 million.

He said it is that fund balance that will help the county meet its budget goals without extreme fluctuation in the tax rate. Currently the county’s tax rate is 47¢ per $100 valuation.

He said, “We are not anticipating a tax rate increase but we are anticipating a tax revenue loss.”

In a separate report at the court meeting, DeWitt County Election Administrator Blanca McBride met with commissioners seeking approval for vote centers locally.

She explained, starting with the November general election, eligible voters will have the ability to vote at any of the polling locations in this county on election day.

Currently, voters must vote at designated polling places depending on where they live.

With this approved change, eligible voters may cast their vote any of 10 different polling locations on election day.

The primary reason for the change is because election clerks will scan the barcode on the voter’s driver’s license. That information will record that the person has voted and that information is available at each of the polling locations. This would prevent people from voting more than one time.

The scan also allows the clerk to see whether the person is a registered voter.

It was also noted all the polling places will only have electronic voting. Previously, the polling sites allowed voters to choose either paper ballot or electronic voting.


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