Wichita County Commissioner approve budget for 2024

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 7:24 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - This week Wichita County Commissioners approved the tax rate and budget for 2024. This budget will reduce the tax rate for homeowners to 4.39%.

While the rate has decreased, homeowners could still be paying more in property taxes this year. Wichita County Judge Jim Johnson said inflation has played a major role during discussions about next year’s financial blueprint and rate.

As prices for everything from personnel to materials were on the rise, the county had to get creative.

“Ongoing expenses that we know we’re going to have to pay year after year, they keep going up. What we need to make sure that property tax revenue is coming in. That is close to that number. So, we don’t get in a bind where we don’t start running deficits.” Johnson said.

Judge Johnson said homeowners with a property valued at $100,000 last year, can expect to pay an additional $36 more this year. He said this increase in property tax is needed in order to fund county law enforcement.

Improvements to law enforcement were the primary discussion point for next year’s financial blueprint. Johnson stated that inflation is hitting the county just as hard as the rest of the community, but law enforcement still needs to have the proper amount of funding.

Johnson said law enforcement in the county is essential to society as well as economic circulation.

“We’re responsible for county law enforcement, and part of that we have a jail as well. If we don’t make sure that those areas are taken care of; that they are done well and done right a lot of other things that the government does will start to fall apart and residents will start to see that.” Johnson explained.

A third of the revenue from county property taxes goes toward supporting county law enforcement. That amount comes out to $29 million. Those dollars will be spent on needs such as vehicles, employing officers, and salary increases. $10.5 million of the $29 million will also go to the District Attorney’s Office.

Johnson said budget cuts were made in different county departments and they were using a portion of the county reserve funds to supply the needs of the officers. However, a continuation of dipping into those funds could lead to major debt for the county.

Overall, the county expects to see an increase in property tax revenue by about $3.3 million this year. About $800,000 of that is from new property construction.