Lubbock County Commissioners made two important decisions today, deciding the tax rate increase and also whether or not elected officials should get raises. County Commissioners decided today on a 7.9 percent increase in the tax rate. They say this year is a transition year and a tax increase should be expected due to the high cost of opening a new jail.
With the tax rate going up about 8 percent, that is about a two cent increase on your property taxes per every 100 dollar value. Commissioners say the impact of opening a new jail is what is driving the tax raise.
"The tax increase is purely, absolutely 100 percent for the public safety to transition into the new detention center and addressing that institute," said Lubbock County Commissioner Bill McCay. McCay says he is hopeful next year's budget could get back to a flat tax rate, but this year's increase was to be expected.
"This was going to be the year when we move into the new facility. We are going to have to put that much more staff on, having two facilities open at the same time and there is lots of cost and you've got to do what you've got to do," said Lubbock County Commissioner Patti Jones.
Also on the table, was whether or not elected county officials should receive a raise? "In our commitment doing everything we can to minimize that tax increase, we voted to not increase elected officials salaries," said McCay.
It took some debate and seven failed motions before commissioners were able to come to a decision.
"Each of them was fully aware of what the pay was when they ran for office and if it was good enough for them at the time they ran for office then it should be good enough for them now," said Lubbock County Commissioner Ysidro Gutierrez.
"People know what the salary was when we came in, yes we do, but if that's the sort of thing, then these salaries would be like $1000 a month," said Jones.
With a three to two vote, it was decided to not increase official's salaries. However, the county auditor, whose salary is tied to the county judge's, will receive a point six percent raise.
"You cannot forget about the rest of the county needs. I learned that very early when I first started this process trying to take care of that and give the attention to other departments' morale just went to the bottom," said Jones.
Jones tells us on a $100,000 dollar home, the tax rate increase will come out to about three more dollars a month.
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