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Denton County homeowners won’t get much relief next year on their county tax bills.

In a presentation on Tuesday, county budget officials recommended a tax rate of $0.2252 per $100 property valuation for fiscal year 2020.

While county leaders heralded the proposed tax rate as an historic low for Denton County, the true difference for taxpayers between next year’s proposed rate and this year’s rate means the average homeowner here will save about $1 on their county tax bill next year, according to the county’s projections.

The current rate is $0.2255 per $100 valuation. The average home value for tax year 2019 is $333,406, and the owner of a house with that value would pay about $752 to the county this year. Under the proposed 2020 rate, the county portion of the bill for that house will now be about $751.

The proposed budget is not finalized. The public has several opportunities to weigh in on the tax rate and the county’s overall 2020 budget during upcoming meetings and workshops. Denton County commissioners are scheduled to vote on the final budget and tax rate on Sept. 17.

About $23.2 million in taxable value was added in the county from last year, officials said. The county’s effective tax rate is $0.2153. The county’s proposed rate of $0.2252 is above the effective rate, which is the rate that would keep a property owner’s tax bill basically the same even after the property’s valuation changes.

Denton County’s recommended budget calls for $321.5 million, about $5.2 million more than last year’s budget, the county’s presentation shows.

Denton County officials are projecting the county will reach about 1 million residents by the year 2023. In what Denton County Budget Director Jona Macsas called an “extremely difficult” budget year on Tuesday, the county is having to balance the growing needs of county staff and services with limited revenue sources.

The recommended budget calls for about 27 new positions be added across various Denton County offices to address what the county calls a continued drop in employees per 1,000 residents.

Most of the county’s budget is made of property tax revenue. Macsas pointed to Senate Bill 2, passed in this year’s Texas legislative session, as a potential issue for the county. The law forces taxing entities like the county to get voter approval to be able to raise 3.5% more tax revenue, and changes other ways the county adopts a property tax rate. Macsas said the bill will affect how flexible the county is in the future in changing its tax rate.

Criminal justice issues were a key aspect of the county’s budget proposal on Tuesday. Officials said the county is losing revenue from court fines and fees amid efforts in Texas and across the United States to reduce the financial burdens people must pay as their cases work through court systems.

According to a news release from Denton County Judge Andy Eads’ office, the county lost close to $1.6 million in fees from the county clerk’s office and justices of the peace and constable offices. Another $1 million was lost from fines in the courts.

DALTON LAFERNEY can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @daltonlaferney.

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