Young County property owner Julia Cox voiced her concerns over a rising tax burden for county residents at Monday s county budget public hearing.
Young County property owner Julia Cox voiced her concerns over a rising tax burden for county residents at Monday s county budget public hearing. (Brian Rash)

Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part report on Young County’s initial proposed tax rate of 61.5 cents per $100 of property valuation.

It’s tax rate-setting time for entities across Young County, and after proposing its initial rate two weeks ago, Young County officials are now closely examining their budget to determine exactly how far below its opening 61.5 cent rate it can go.

On Monday, Aug. 18, the court held its first of two public hearings on the 2015 rate. The next hearing takes place on Monday, Aug. 25.

One Young County property owner Julia Cox voiced her tax concerns Monday morning before the court, and when describing how tax-weary local property owners have become, it wasn’t just the hospital district, but the Graham Independent School District that she used to illustrate her point. 

“You know, as property owners, we’ve all been hit by taxes,” she said. “We’ve got the school board tax coming up, and we just had the hospital district tax. And the immediate effect from that was that a bunch of people left Graham because they couldn’t afford to rent from the people having to sell their houses.”

GISD proposed its 2015 tax rate at $1.347, more than double the proposed county rate, and is set to adopt it Aug. 29. 

Cox said that raising the county’s tax rate amounted to a “Band-Aid fix for a gaping wound” and it would not fix the overarching problem. It would, in reality, make the problem worse, she said. 

“This is not a theory. This is what will happen,” she said. “We’ll need to keep raising taxes to get the same amount of money, and I’m just very concerned that this is going to have a negative effect on property owners through all walks of the economic strata.”

Commissioner Jimmy Wiley responded that the county must set a tax rate each year, and the initial proposed rate is a level that the Commissioners Court always tries to undercut. 

“The rate that we’re setting today does not necessarily mean that that’s the rate we’re going to set (for the year),” Wiley said. “We always go just a certain percentage underneath the rollback rate.”

Wiley explained that in order for the court to not subject itself to a rollback election, it can only come down from the proposed rate. It can’t go up. 

“Right now we’re in the process of trimming and working the budget, and you’ll be surprised what it ends up being once it’s finalized,” the commissioner said. 

Read the entire story in the weekend edition of the Graham Leader.