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Officials Propose 4-Cent Reduction in County Tax Rate

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Hopkins County Tax Assessor/Collect Debbie Pogue Mitchell Friday proposed setting the county tax rate at $0.584035 per $100 property valuation, a 4-cent tax reduction.

Mitchell explained that the Comptroller requires that two rates be considered in establishing a county tax rate and made public: a no-new-revenue tax rate, the amount needed to raise the same amount of property tax revenue from the same properties in both the 2020 tax year and the 2021 tax year, and the voter-approval tax rate, that is the highest tax rate the county may adopt without holding an election to seek voter approval of the proposed county tax rate.

Debbie Mitchell

Hopkins County’s no-new-revenue rate is $0.56139 per $100 property valuation. The county’s voter-approval tax rate is $0.585726 per $100, according to the 2021 notice of tax rates and notice of public hearing/notice of public meeting.

After months of budget work sessions between the commissioners court and various county departments, Mitchell recommended that the county tax rate be set at $0.584035 per $100 property valuation for 2021-2022, which is a $0.040857 reduction. That would be less than or equal to the 3.5 percent cap set by the state legislature. That would lower the tax bill on a $100,000 property from $624.892 to $584.035 during the 2021-2022 taxing cycle.

“When I came into office, we had to raise the tax rate almost 7 cents to build the jail, and so this is taking it backward actually for the first time since I’ve been county judge,” Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom said.

While the tax rate is 4 cents lower, county property taxes are projected to raise $888,540 more revenue for Hopkins County during 2021-2022 than the prior year’s $0.624892 county tax rate. Approximately $280,330 of that 6.9 percent increase in tax revenue is from new properties added to the tax roll this year.

“Of course, everybody knows, across the county that everybody’s values increased, and also the county’s debt rate decreased. Those played into the figuring of the tax rate,” Mitchell said.

“Will we see that in this year’s tax [bill], In October, we’ll see the reduction then?” Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price asked.

“Yes, sir, even though you are working on the 2022 budget, we’re working on the 2021 taxes which come out in October,” Mitchell affirmed.

“So, actually, this new tax rate will take effective immediately — it will impact the taxpayers immediately?” Newsom asked.

Mitchell said confirmed that, when tax notices go out in October, the new adopted rate will be used to calculate county property tax bills.

Because the proposed tax rate is greater than the no-new-revenue tax rate but lower than the voter-approval tax rate one public hearing must be held regarding the tax rate, Mitchell noted.

The County Tax Assessor/Collector then asked the Commissioners Court to set the official public hearing, during which public comments may be voiced regarding the planned tax rate and budget. She proposed that a public hearing be held Aug. 23, 2021, during the 9 a.m. Commissioners Court meeting at Hopkins County Courthouse, for the proposed $0.584035 tax rate for 2021-2022. She also recommended the Commissioners Court consider adopting the proposed tax at the Aug. 23, following the public hearing. The court officially set 9 a.m. Aug. 23 as the date and time for the public hearing and to consider adopting the tax rate. The county’s proposed FY 2021-2022 budget (and 2021 tax notices) has been posted to the county’s website for public review and is expected to be announced for consideration on Aug. 23, 2021 as well.

“Because of some innovative programs, the county has some flexibility others do not enjoy. We are able to give employees a raise across the board,” Newsom said.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Mickey Barker said attributed the ability to fund a raise for all county employees to “positive growth in Hopkins County and special projects.” The increase in pay should help recruit and retain employees throughout the county, especially deputies, corrections officers and firefighters.

HCSO Chief Deputy Tanner Crump said some “cutting edge programs” are will providing a more competitive pay, that we have been behind on for decades.” That should help retain the quality employees already employed at the sheriff’s office and across the county, and help attract other high caliber applicants when openings do become available.

The Commissioners emphasized that the proposed 12 percent pay raise for all county employees will not come from the the additional tax revenue from new construction and increased appraisal values on property. No tax dollars will be used for pay increases; the special projects are expected to fund the raises. The additional tax revenues will be used for county operations, maintenance, debt service payments and repairs.

Click here to view the Proposed County Budget

Tax notices can be found by clicking here.

Author: Faith Huffman

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