Tax rate increases for Wichita County residents

WICHITA COUNTY, TX (KAUZ) - If you live in Wichita County, your tax rate will soon be going up.

"We knew that the only change that would happen to the tax rate was enough funding to pay for the jail bond," Precinct 4 Commissioner, Jeff Watts said. "That is going to be slightly over what we estimated at 5.5 cents."

County commissioners passed the 2018 budget Monday, which included the increase for the new Wichita County jail. It will go up about 95 cents, which means if you own a $100,000 home, your taxes will increase $5.52.

It was the only reason for the increase, but just one of many things that will be changing from this year's budget. The more surprising changes came to the employees.

"There are some paybacks from employee health insurance all the way across the board on various things we thought we could tighten up," Commissioner Watts said.

The biggest change in health care is employees deductibles raising from $600 for individuals and $900 for families, to $2,000 for individuals and $6,000 for families.

15 county positions will also be cut, some just to attrition.

"It's very difficult when you go to taking away things," Commissioner Watts said. "It's always fun to add, but someone's got to pay for that."

Commissioner Watts and Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom said it could have been 23 jobs, but alternative solutions from department heads helped save costs.

"After our elected officials and department heads got over the shock, they went back and thought through things," Judge Gossom said. "And thought about how they can do things differently and better. How they could lessen the impact on their office. I think some great ideas came through."

Judge Gossom said if they do not want taxes to go up in the future, they will have to continue to change the way they approach how they receive and deliver their services like they did this year.

Judge Gossom is challenging county employees to be proactive in how their department can save money because they are the county's best resource. He added if it is saved, maybe it can be re-invested in those who save it.

Copyright 2017 KAUZ News All Rights Reserved