On Sept. 14, your Wharton County Commissioners Court will approve our upcoming 2021 annual operating budget with a lower tax levy of $.45869 per $100 of value.   

2020 No New-Revenue    -   $ .45869                            

Current 2019 Tax Rate    -   $ .46240

As in past years, your elected county officials were determined to maintain the same spending levels we have operated on for over a decade. The Central Appraisal District recently certified our county’s 2020 net taxable value at $3,712,729,493 which is $34,010,362 above last year’s certified values of $3,678,719,131.  

2020 Certified Appraisals    $3,712,729,493

2019 Certified Appraisals    $3,678,719,131 

Increase in Appraisals    $      34,010,362 

Theoretically, when property valuations increase … all governmental tax levies should decrease. If an entity is staying at or above their current tax rate then they are raising your taxes.  As stated above, Wharton County will be lowering our adopted tax rate to ensure NO NEW TAXES.    

                Expenditures      Tax Rate          Owed Debt

   2009     $24,166,706            $ .54584$4,970,000

   2010     $22,533,689            $ .54376$4,300,000

   2011     $21,250,001            $ .53183$3,665,000

   2012     $20,092,730            $ .53022$2,915,000

   2013     $19,599,649            $ .50215$   745,000       

   2014     $20,144,918            $ .48806$              0

   2015     $20,690,729            $ .45999$              0

   2016     $21,734,692            $ .49000$              0

   2017     $22,052,841            $ .49000$              0

   2018     $24,721,360            $ .47500$              0

   2019     $24,778,224            $ .47396$              0

   2020     $25,781,846            $ .46240$              0

   2021     $25,495,404            $ .45869$              0

Our 2021 annual operating budget is balanced with revenues exceeding expenditures. We are actually cutting $286,442 in expenditures from last year.  Our Wharton County remains 100% debt free for an eighth consecutive year.   

Your elected Commissioners Court currently purchases needed capital on a pay as you go basis.  If we have extra savings … we purchase needed machinery. 

Our county’s upcoming 2021 budget utilizes $3,288,000 in excess savings to purchase the following capital and one-time expenditures:

General fund description

$400,000 for one murder trial; 6 law enforcement vehicles; LED lighting upgrades to county buildings; HVAC unit; law enforcement equipment, 2 DPS radars, cleaning exterior of historic courthouse; legal expenses for mandatory 2020 Census redistricting, and matching funds for essential road & drainage improvement grants.

Road and Bridge description

$800,000 for county-wide capital equipment; 2 roll-off boxes at solid waste station; $350,000 contingency specifically designated for unforeseen bridge repairs; and $150,000 contingency for actual road materials (not machinery or maintenance.) We want to build and rehabilitate more roads and bridges in 2021.                        

FM&LR description

$300,000 for one drainage bulldozer and $60,000 for engineering services. Improving countywide drainage remains a top priority.

As one of the area’s principal employers, Wharton County recognizes its responsibility to maintain employee salaries at levels comparable to other job markets to retain qualified staff.  For years, Wharton County has sought to compensate our employees by absorbing premium increases in employee health coverage; maintaining longevity pay for eligible workers; and bolstering our employee’s retirement whenever possible.  Unfortunately, by holding the line on annual spending, our county traditionally lags behind area cities and counties in providing meaningful salaries. In looking to 2021, the uncertainty of COVID-19 and skyrocketing property appraisals will prevent your Wharton County Commissioners Court from budgeting any form of cost of living adjustment for our hardworking employees. We are looking to transition existing funds to provide an additional $600 (gross) December salary supplement for qualifying employees.  

Our Wharton County continues to experience strong economic development with the creation of meaningful new jobs and the injection of large sums of new investment dollars. A number of existing businesses have expanded their local operations and are increasing workforce. Five solar farms are gearing up to bring $1.3 billion in new countywide investments. Area residents should anticipate additional job creation and development revenues from the new El Campo Railyard Project and several gas pipelines looking to connect in the coming year.

My fellow citizens, please know that your elected County Commissioners are mindful of the many challenges of COVID-19 and how hard it continues to be for local business owners and their employees to keep the doors open and put food on the family table. We will remain thoughtful and conservative while managing your tax dollars.

 As your county judge, transparency and openness remain my top priority.  It is imperative that local governments continue to share information and explain decisions so that taxpayers can better understand how and why local government operates as it does. People and government working together is the key to efficient operations and continued countywide prosperity. 


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