Wichita county commissioners finalized the 2017 budget and it will raise property taxes. The tax rate increased from 55 cents to 60 cents. It's a $30 dollar increase on a 100 thousand dollar home a year.
Commissioners say unfortunately the monetary burden of things like inmate housing and indigent defense are costing the tax payer to the tune of an 8% hike.
Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom says they are looking at ways to help bring tax rate down or stabilize it for next year - things like updating fees.
“There's some other fees that if the state would let us update like the $10 that we pay on our vehicle license tags. That hasn't been changed since the early 90's. Some of those things have to be revisited.”
Judge Gossom says inmate housing, indigent defense and health care are costing the taxpayer dearly but he says they have no control over it.
"Unlike the state that can say our prisons are full we can't take anymore inmates. We can't say that in county jail."
He says the commissioners are meeting with state representatives this week to try to get some of the burden of those expenses off the taxpayer and have the state take over some of those expenses. All in all he says he feels good about the budget.
“I think this year, in my 25 plus years of doing this, this has been the hardest budget session I’ve gone through - much more detail. We've had much more input from the department heads. It's been a good process.”
The property tax increase for the 20-17 budget will take effect January 1st.