Brewster County Commissioners Court held a special meeting on July 29 to discuss certified values and tax rate issues.

Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Denise Flores provided an overview of the 2020 certified values. Flores said the proposed budget would either stay the same or decrease, pending a hearing held after press time on Aug. 5, when 69 protests were settled. Flores said she would resubmit numbers to all the entities except San Vicente ISD, which had finalized its protests.

In other business, Tax Assessor Collector Betty Jo Rooney presented the 2020 certified tax roll, and said the total proposed taxable value to be used in the tax rate calculation was about $933 million, and the taxpayer’s $8 million protest value will be used to calculate the proposed tax rate.

Rooney added, “Union Pacific had just over a $100,000 increase in value, and that was not expected. We thought values would go down, but they have gone up.”

Rooney said she would make further adjustments because of the difference in value that will be used based on the protests, and if values increase, the rate decreases, which would in turn generate less revenue for the county.

County Auditor Patty Roach said there was some uncertainty with the county getting more revenue when the protests are finalized. She admitted there was unfamiliarity and nervousness with the state’s new calculation form.

Roach also announced that she had contacted a tax attorney. Although he said this year the county would only be required to have a single tax rate hearing, Rooney thought it would be common courtesy to the taxpayers to have two hearings.

Judge Eleazar Cano said the proposed tax rate hearings originally scheduled for Aug. 26 and Sept. 9 were pending, and added, “As far as the rate, we are not looking at increasing it. We are not getting anywhere near rollback rates or effective tax rates. We are going to leave it as is.”

Cano also said in the next regular commissioner’s court meeting, there would be further information regarding appraised values, tax rates, and hearings, and Rooney said there would be more solid numbers from the appraisal district.

“With everything that has been happening with COVID-19, people may not be paying their property taxes as quickly as they have been in the past, so we are trying to get a decent projection,” said Roach. “The last time we looked at the collections this year for maintenance and operations, we were right at 96%, so I think that’s a solid projection.”

Roach said before a final budget was presented, she would check again to see if that was a good collection rate, or if it needed to be modified. Cano then announced the proposed budget draft would be available on the county website.

The next regularly scheduled commissioner’s court meeting is set for Wednesday, Aug. 12, at 9:30 a.m. via Facebook Live.

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