Denton County’s Fiscal Year 2022-2023 recommended budget earmarks an estimated $7 million for cybersecurity measures and technology updates as well as $3.5 million for public safety including expansion of the human trafficking unit. At the same time, the proposed tax rate is being reduced over a penny and a half from the FY 2022 adopted rate, making the FY 2023 proposed tax rate of $0.217543 the lowest it has been since 1986.
“With rising costs hitting Denton County residents hard this year, lowering the tax rate was uppermost on our minds with this year’s budget,” said Denton County Judge Andy Eads. “We also believe ensuring a high level of cybersecurity and supporting our law enforcement for public safety are important benefits for all of our residents.
“During this past year, as our population of 950,700-plus veered ever closer to the 1 million mark, we have continued to plan ahead on transportation as we are expending the last of our TRIP bonds from 2008 as well as ensure our county services keep up with growing demand,” he said.
The focus on these areas are a key part of the recommended $371,084,382 budget under consideration by the Denton County Commissioners Court.
Other key factors in the FY 2022-2023 budget include:
- Increasing the road project planning in the Permanent Improvement Fund by $1 million, increasing the amount to pay for roads using a “pay as you go” system rather than issuing debt for county roads
- Adding new positions, covering unfunded mandates and handling the deferred impact of new courts added in Fiscal Year 2022 in our judicial and legal system at a cost of about $1.88 million
- Sliding the pay scale for employees by 5 percent to ensure starting salaries do not fall behind the market more than at present and to increase retention. Current vacancies among 1,889 positions total 16.97 percent. Denton County ranks third lowest among the top 15 Texas counties with 2.02 employees per capita. Denton County continues to decline in the number of employees per 1,000 residents, falling from a high of 2.29 employees per 1,000 residents in 2014 to the current rate of 2.02 employees per the same number of residents. In 2021, the rate was 2.03 employees per capita.
“We continue to be innovative in increasing services to the public while maintaining a conservative view on our tax rate,” Judge Eads said. “We are also focused on continuing to be competitive in salaries to retain current employees and attract new talent.”
The county is proposing adding several new positions and reclassifying a number of positions in law enforcement to better retain existing talent and experience in a highly competitive market. All detention officer salaries were upgraded two pay grades. In addition, a new Human Trafficking Unit will be expanded to target a growing issue in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. The estimated cost will be $3.57 million for the recommended changes in public safety.
For road maintenance and improvements, $1.29 million is set aside for road projects. The funds will be spent for surface treatment, flex base, lumber, fencing, culvert repairs and more as well as for projects in the permanent improvement fund. The total also includes additional costs due to inflation.
The county also is experiencing economic impacts such as an estimated $295,175 due to inflation in maintenance and operation costs. The county will also see a potential increase of $486,305 in the funding formula used to configure how much the county pays for the Denton Central Appraisal District (DCAD) operations. Each entity within the county pays a portion of the DCAD budget.
The proposed tax rate of $0.217543 still falls well below all but one of the top 15 most populated Texas counties in terms of the county tax rate. Denton County, with an estimated population of 950,700, ranks the second lowest in the county tax rate category and is the lowest in the county-wide rate. County-wide rates include additional tax rates for such districts as hospitals, community college, and flood control and port authority – none of which exist in Denton County.
“We keep the taxpayers in mind when configuring each year’s budget,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell said. As the longest serving member of the Court, Commissioner Mitchell and her fellow Court members continue seeking cost saving measures to keep tax rates as low as possible for homeowners and property owners across Denton County.
For example, using the recommended tax rate of $0.217543 and the average 2022 Denton County home value of $401,796, Denton County’s proposed rate accounts for 10 percent of the overall annual property taxes owed by the resident living in the City of Denton. Denton ISD school district tax rates account for 64 percent while the City of Denton tax rate accounts for 26 percent of the annual amount paid by property owners. The average Denton County homeowner would see decrease of $62.45, which is the difference between this year’s tax rate and next year’s proposed tax rate using the 2022 average home value for both years.