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Commissioners pass budget with lowest tax rate in more than 15 years

Galveston County Commissioners have successfully decreased the property tax rate for the sixth consecutive year and brought the rate down to its lowest point since 2000.

In a 4-1 vote, commissioners approved the fiscal year 2017 budget which included a 2.65 percent decrease from this year’s tax rate.

Commissioners were also successful in lowering the county’s overall debt to a 38 percent decrease since 2010.

Six years ago Galveston County was faced with $343.3 million in publicly financed debt and held the title of having the second highest per capita debt burden in the State of Texas. According to the county auditor, Galveston County has an overall debt of about $220 million heading into the new budget year.

County Judge Mark Henry said he’s proud that the county had decreased both the property tax rate and overall debt. He also said it makes Galveston County a more attractive place to live and do business.

“I have worked closely with commissioners, department heads and other elected officials to evaluate the proposed budget to ensure that county services are being provided in an efficient and effective manner while looking after the interests of taxpayers,” Henry said.

While developing the new budget, commissioners set aside about $1 million for engineering studies to develop road and rail bridges to Pelican Island; a plan officials have called the single most important economic project of this decade.

Other increased expenses are attributed to 2 percent raises for county employees and salary increases for sheriff and constable deputies.

“We continue to defy the odds,” Commissioner Joe Giusti said. “Despite impacts from the state budget and other taxing entities, we continue to meet the financial needs of Galveston County while still improving services.”

Under the new rate, the owner of a property valued at $100,000 would pay about $552 in taxes, compared to $567 this year.

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