ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Following a recent budget hearing, The Taylor County Commissioners Court was tasked with what to do with $71,417,916 in expenditures, which puts the court $8,248,874 over budget.

On Tuesday morning, the court met to discuss calculations of the various tax rates, which will have an impact on the upcoming budget.

“This is the last piece of the puzzle we needed to know where everything stands,” said Taylor County Auditor Elijah Anderson.

Anderson told KTAB/KRBC the Taylor County Appraisal District started the tax rate at 54.75 cents, which is based on the number of appraisals. Because appraisals have increased, the tax rate must decrease. 

“If assessments go up, the revenue rate for this year has to go down to get us equal to where we were last year,” Anderson explained. 

If the tax rate exceeds 62.43 cents, voters will have to approve the tax rate. It’s a similar practice as to what was done last year, when the Lubbock Sherriff’s Office asked voters to increase wages through a voter-approved tax rate. 

Altogether, various departments across Taylor County asked for more than $71 million in expenditures – as the rise in cost-of-living, along with inflation, is expected to play a role in deciding the final budget.

“The bulk would be some kind of COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) increase for employees,” Anderson detailed further, “in terms of what is happening with inflation, where you have a 5% COLA plugged in, with a 2% merit raise available.”

This time last year, the Taylor County Commissioners Court was facing a $155,384 deficit in expenditures. This year, the deficit has grown to more than $8 million. But at this point, as Anderson’s role [Taylor County Auditor] is to provide the figures to the court to determine the budget equation. 

“The Appraisal District certifies the tax rate we can work with. If the court decides to go above that, there will be a public hearing that’s called,” said Anderson. 

What’s most important, according to Anderson, is for the community to know where their tax money is going. 

“At the end of the day, this is all taxpayer money,” Anderson added. “People want to know where their money is being spent.” 

The next move for the Taylor County Commissioner’s Court is to decide what will stay and what will go in the budget, ultimately deciding the final tax rate.