By Alicia Lacy

Killeen Daily Herald

GATESVILLE – The Coryell County budget process of the 2009-10 fiscal year is on track, with proposed decreases in the tax rate and total budget expenditures.

Monday, the commissioners court gave preliminary approval of the proposed budget for next year and the proposed tax rate for the 2009 tax year.

As proposed, the 2009 tax rate is a decrease of 0.39 percent below the current tax rate and 0.2 percent below the effective rate – the rate needed to generate the same amount of revenue as the previous year.

The proposed rate is 39.75 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

This is 0.15 cents less than the current rate, which is 39.90 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

However, though the proposed tax rate dropped and total budget expenditures are projected to decrease by 2.6 percent or approximately $432,000, the county's general fund expenditures increase about $50,000, with the largest dollar increase at about $100,000 for the prison board.

Expenditures for the prison board include out-of-county incarceration of state and county adjudications, in addition to a $25,000 increase for the transportation of inmates.

County Judge John Firth said the significant increase is a contributory factor to the need for a jail facility.

The county is currently researching options for a new jail facility.

The current jail has been dealing with overcrowding issues for months.

Other increases in the general fund include state-mandated expenditures such as indigent defense and health costs, tax appraisal district and state mental health and mental retardation payments that total approximately $81,000.

Counties have a different timeline from cities for their budgeting process. Coryell County scheduled a public hearing for the budget on Sept. 17.

"There is the requirement to conduct a public hearing for the FY 2010 budget, and so the matter is the date," Firth said.

"Even though we're reducing our expenditures and reducing our tax rate, we cannot establish the public hearing for the budget until the next month after the 15th."

County Auditor Ben Roberts said unless there are changes made during the public hearing, the court can adopt the budget and the tax rate then; however, if changes are made, the court will have to wait a certain period of time before another public hearing can be held.

Contact Alicia Lacy at or (254) 501-7476.

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