Denton County Commissioners this week approved the county’s Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget that 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. The approved tax rate of $0.217543 is over a penny and a half below the FY 2021-22 adopted tax rate, making the rate approved the lowest it has been since 1986.
“We are focused on limiting the county budget while also taking care of our employees,” said Denton County Judge Andy Eads. “With the changing market conditions affecting both our employees and our taxpayers, we knew it was important to make adjustments to account for it. It’s important to take care of our employees, who provide valuable services to our taxpayers.”
“We continue to always keep taxpayers in mind when developing the fiscal year budget and this year is no different,” Judge Eads said.
The focus on employees is a key part of the $371,084,382 budget, which goes into effect on Oct. 1, 2022.
Commissioners Court approved 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.
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 2021-22 in our judicial and legal system at a cost of about $1.88 million
The county is 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 changes in public safety.
Commissioner Precinct 1 Ryan Williams thanked the county judge, budget staff, and department heads for the countless hours and effort into putting together the budget. He also reiterated the importance of supporting law enforcement, particularly with the ongoing vacancies among detention officers.
“Hopefully, this will address the hiring pressures we’ve been under, specifically our law enforcement,” Commissioner Williams said. “By addressing compensation, we can be more competitive in the law enforcement field to alleviate the situation.”
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 countywide rate. Countywide rates include additional tax rates for such districts as hospitals, community colleges, and flood control and port authority – none of which exist in 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 the FY 2021-22 current tax rate and the FY 2022-23 tax rate using the 2022 average home value for both years.
“In Denton County, we are not raising our tax rate, we are lowering it to our lowest in the past 36 years,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Ron Marchant reaffirmed. “We are taking care of our employees in an environment that is very competitive while also looking out for Denton County taxpayers.”