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Commissioners approve $354 million budget

STAFF REPORT

HAYS COUNTY — The Hays County Commissioners Court adopted the Fiscal Year 2023 county budget of $354,051,343 during its regular meeting on Sept. 20. 

The commissioners court also adopted the No New Revenue (NNR) rate of .3125; the FY22 adopted rate was .3867, the lowest county tax rate since 1989 despite the county’s continued rapid growth.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Budget Officer Vickie Dorsett said maintaining the lowest tax rate in more than three decades was challenging but she is proud of the work performed to provide the services county residents expect, offer increased pay to staff, perform infrastructure upgrades and continue the county’s road and parks bond programs.

The budget includes $58.5 million for the voter-approved Hays County 2016 Road Bond projects, and approximately $23 million is included for the voter-approved Hays County 2020 Park Bond Program for park improvements, open spaces, conservation lands and other recreational opportunities. 

With the county’s growth comes the need for additional personnel, law enforcement officers, infrastructure and road improvements, which increases the need for additional staff.

“We believe it is a major accomplishment to adopt a balanced budget at the NNR rate and still provide a high level of service for Hays County residents,” Dorsett said. “This budget also allows us to offer increases in salaries for both law enforcement and civilian positions.”

The FY 2023 budget includes $3 million for personnel to create the following:

• New 483rd Judicial District Court, Assistant District Attorneys and support staff

• School Resource Officers 

• Elections staff

• Parks positions for the new Sentinel Peak Preserve

• Administrative and road staff

Additionally, 47 vacant positions were removed from the budget for $2 million in savings.

“Using the salary savings from unfilled positions gave us the extra funding needed to address salary adjustments across the board,” Pct. 3 Commissioner Lon Shell said. “We were able to utilize that $2 million for collective bargaining with law enforcement.”

The commissioners court also included $2.6 million for salary adjustments for civilian staff and department heads to implement a market compensation study currently underway.

Approximately $2.2M was included for new and replacement equipment to support current and newly created positions and services throughout the county. An additional $13.3 million was included for capital improvements to the Hays County Jail, multiple public buildings, park improvements, and flood mitigation efforts as needed.

Hays County continues to support local agencies through ARPA funding received from the U.S. Treasury as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. Approximately $15.3 million in ARPA funding is included in the FY23 budget to support:

• A breast cancer screening program ($1.2 million)

• Additional SROs ($586K)

• Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center ($644K)

• Emergency Medical Services ($797K) and Emergency Services Districts ($6 million)

The ARPA budget also includes funding to establish a Public Defender Office, to provide additional magistration for those being held in the county jail and to create a Mental Health Specialty Court.

“I’m grateful we were able to utilize the ARPA funding for so many needed and important programs in our community,” Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe said. “I’m especially pleased about funding for the Public Defender’s Office and the creation of a Mental Health Specialty Court.”

For additional information regarding the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, contact the Budget Office at (512) 393-2275.

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