Where does our Wharton County tax rate compare to other statewide and neighboring governmental entities?

According to the State Comptrollers website, last year’s Wharton County tax levy ranked 182nd out of Texas’ 254 counties.  Yes, your county tax levy ranked near the bottom 28% of all Texas counties.  Of the 72 counties below us, most had populations over 100,000 or populations well below 15,000.

Wharton County’s Rank among Neighboring Counties: the Comptrollers website places our 2018 Wharton County tax levy smack in the middle of the region.  Please note most of our neighbors with lower rates have either larger populations or high valued industry to bolster their economies.

                        Tax Rate     Pop.

Waller            .6868          53,126

Lavaca            .5993          20,110

Austin            .5479          29,989

Colorado            .5100          21,217

Calhoun            .4900          21,561

Wharton            .4739         41,619

Dewitt             .4693         20,187

Jackson            .4464         14,874

Fort Bend            .4450       787,858

Brazoria            .4279        370,200

Matagorda          .4175         36,552

Rank Within our Wharton County:  Your County’s current 2019 taxes rank 8th among the 22 taxing entities listed on the local Central Appraisal District’s website.

                              Tax Rate  

East Bernard ISD1.2592

Wharton ISD1.2259

Louise ISD1.2000

El Campo ISD1.1960

Boling ISD  .9700

City of El Campo  .5688

Isaacson MUD      .4796

Wharton County     .4624

City of Wharton     .4453

   ---//---

WW Hospital Dist.     .1832

City of East Bernard   .1780

WCJC     .1393

Can County taxes be lowered?  Yes… by one of the following two methods: 1) Cut current spending or 2) Inject new revenue streams into the budget.

Cut existing spending:  Our Wharton County spending remains extremely conservative as elected officials adopted the state guided effective tax rate for the previous eleven years. In fact, until this current 2020 budget year, your elected leaders held Wharton County’s annual expenditures at or below the same $24 million it spent back in 2009… and we continue to be 100% debt free for a sixth consecutive year.

  Tot. Budget      Tax Rate       Debt Owed

2009       $24,166,706     $ .5458         $4,970,000

2010    $22,533,689        $ .5437         $4,300,000

2011    $21,250,001        $ .5318         $3,665,000

2012    $20,092,730        $ .5302         $2,915,000

2013   $19,599,649     $.5021         $745,000

2014   $20,144,918        $ .4880         $               0

2015   $20,690,729        $ .4599         $               0

2016   $21,518,242        $ .4900         $               0

2017   $22,052,841        $ .4900         $               0

2018   $24,721,360        $ .4750         $               0

2019   $24,778,224        $ .4739         $               0

2020   $25,781,846        $ .4624         $               0

 Please note that our current 2020 budget marked the first tax increase in over a decade as State and Federal mandates forced the following unfunded judicial increases: $300,000 Indigent Defense for Capital Murder Trial; $233,000 increase for the 23rd District Court; and $100,000 increase to provide attorneys for indigent parents in child custody cases.

Inject new revenue into the budget:  Looking at the previous table, you can see local County officials increased 2018 spending by almost $2 million WITHOUT RAISING TAXES.   That primarily happened because the Exelon gas plant in Wharton added two new power generators valued at $350 million.  In 2017, County officials granted Exelon a 48% abatement for 10 years in exchange for Exelon paying us $1.2 million annually for the next ten years.   What once was a dirt field behind the existing power plant now provides 10-12 new jobs and pays Wharton schools over $4 million in new revenue, the City of Wharton over $1 million, and our college and emergency services collect several hundred thousand annually.

Our Texas is the fastest growing and most economically prosperous state in the union.  We offer affordable land, a trainable workforce, and no state income tax.  Over 1,200 new people move to Texas each day.  Regional and local economic developers are working overtime to attract new investors to our county.  These new businesses will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual taxes thereby lessening the burden currently shouldered by homeowners.

Why offer economic incentives?  The bottom line is new and expanding companies will only relocate to places that offer incentives and show support for their investment. Like the Exelon Plant in Wharton, the tax dollars paid by these new investors significantly lowers our local property taxes as they take over the primary funding of schools, roads, drainage, and law enforcement.

As your county judge, it is my primary objective to keep our citizens informed so that together we can move Wharton County forward while never compromising our small town way of life.

 

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