As we look forward to a new fiscal year on Oct. 1, Denton County faces the challenges that fast growth brings.
Every day, around 82 people move into our county. With our population on Jan. 1 at 874,240, we will be reaching the 1 million mark in the next three years.
What does that mean for Denton County? More people will travel our roads, request passports, register vehicles, need sheriff’s deputies, seek public health services, build new homes and businesses in unincorporated Denton County, appear for court hearings, and the list continues.
While growth often brings additional tax revenue, we are seeing decreases in fees and fines. These fluctuations present challenges.
However, I feel it is the responsibility of Commissioners Court to handle your tax dollars like we would handle our own household budget.
Ensuring internal stability and ongoing efficient services to you, we are taking care of our 1,700-plus employees.
The recommended 2019-20 budget for Denton County reflects each of these considerations. Our recommended tax rate is the lowest tax rate in Denton County since 1986 at $0.225278, which includes a tax rate cut of 0.131221% from the current adopted rate.
Let me repeat that. The recommended 2019-20 tax rate will be the lowest in 33 years.
On your tax bill this fall, you may note that the county’s portion is only about 9% of the overall bill. The remainder is for cities and school districts.
As we began our budget process this year, departments asked for what they needed to keep up with growth. We understood their needs, but we also trimmed where we could as we kept you foremost in our minds.
Though county departments requested 66 new positions for the upcoming fiscal year, the recommended budget includes only 27.73 new positions to handle increased growth demands in juvenile detention (10), child abuse (4), as well as cybersecurity (2) and workload (5.73). The recommended budget also includes 31 positions deferred from last year’s budget. Of those 31 positions, 21 were for public safety and eight for the new 462nd District Court as well as to handle an increasing caseload in the Child Protective Services Division of the District Attorney’s Office.
Though we are adding new positions, we have actually decreased the number of employees per capita.
In the past decade, the number of employees per 1,000 county residents dropped from 2.38 in the 2009-10 budget year to a recommended 2.05 employees per capita for the 2019-20 budget year. This per-capita ratio speaks to our county’s efficiency and also our use of technology.
Here is another interesting fact: Denton County’s proposed tax rate is the second lowest among the top 15 Texas counties by population.
On Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, a second public hearing on the proposed tax rate begins at 7 p.m. in Commissioners Court on the second floor of the Courthouse on the Square. On Sept. 17, the regular meeting at 9 a.m. will include a public hearing on the proposed budget beginning at 10 a.m. and a public meeting to adopt the budget and tax rate.
I invite each of you to take the time to attend the meetings or watch them live on the county’s Facebook page.