County Passes 2021-2022 Budget; Reduces Property Tax 25 Cents

June 30, 2021

The Smith County Commission met for its final regular meeting on Monday, June 28, 2021, at the Smith County Justice Center. The main discussion item was the budget for the fiscal year running from July 2020 through June 2022 and the corresponding property tax rate. The commission unanimously approved the budget and a property tax rate of $2.48, a 25 cent reduction from the previous $2.73.

The commission had previously raised the property tax rate in 2019 by 59 cents due to the county’s financial situation at the time. At that time, the county had a three-year plan to correct its financial problem; however, the county reached its goal in just two years. The county will have an estimated fund balance of just under $5 million at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2021. This amount is a far cry from the ending fund balance of 384,266 at the end of the 2019 fiscal year. Also, the county has eliminated all short-term debt, including the need for tax anticipation notes. It has set aside a portion of the budget for capital projects to avoid the need to incur short-term debt in the future.

Another notable item for the budget was the pay rate for county employees. A salary study was conducted by Thompson & Associates to determine the market rate of pay compared to similar counties. All county employees will now be paid a minimum of 87% of the market rate, with a plan to get all employees to 100% of the market rate by 2034. The commission also approved a 2% cost of living increase of pay for next year and a resolution to provide an annual 3% cost of living increase each year after that if the county’s general fund balance increases at least 4% during the fiscal year. This will allow county employees to receive a raise each year as long as the county’s financials remain favorable, which encourages budgetary responsibility among the county employees. A one-time bonus of $2,500 for each county employee and elected official was also approved. This one-time bonus will be funded from the county’s allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which limits what the funds may be used for.

The county has budgeted for approximately $400,000 in capital projects with the current tax rate, including purchasing seven new patrol vehicles for the sheriff’s department. In previous years, it was common for the county to incur short-term debt for these types of purchases. These budgetary practices will allow the county to operate without incurring short-term debt.

You may view the budget here and can watch the full meeting below:

Thanks to Powell & Meadows Insurance Agency for sponsoring the live broadcast of this meeting.

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The Smith County Board of Commissioners meets on the second Monday of every month in January through November except for the June meeting that is held on the final Monday of the month.

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