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Photo by Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT

Here’s a breakdown of Travis County’s budget for 2023

Thursday, September 29, 2022 by Haya Panjwani, KUT

The Travis County Commissioners Court approved a $1.52 billion budget for 2023 Tuesday that reduces the average homeowner’s property taxes by about $18 a year, and adds funding for gun violence prevention programs, higher wages for county employees and housing initiatives.

It also increases funding for education and health care programs, two areas Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Travillion said are at risk in the state Legislature.

“The things that have been coming out of (the Legislature) have frankly hurt the public education system, access to health care  all the things that we have demonstrated that we value through our budget,” he said. “So this is going to be a bumpy ride.”

The court reduced the tax rate by 3.93 cents. Properties will now be taxed at 31.82 cents per $100 of taxable value. That brings the average property tax down by $18.10.

County Judge Andy Brown said the lowered tax rate is possible because of Travis County’s AAA bond rating, which allows it to pay a lower rate when borrowing money.

“The other (reason for lowered tax rates) is that there was new construction, which always helps. … People who are already living here are not shouldering the entire burden, but new construction is helping pay local property taxes as well.”

The Commissioners Court also increased homestead exemptions for people who are 65 and older or disabled by $10,000. That means the property tax bill for people with this exemption should decrease by about $32.

About $2 million was allocated to building affordable housing.

The county also approved raising the minimum wage from $15 an hour to $20 an hour, a move that mirrored action the Austin City Council took earlier this year. The budget also provides a 5 percent pay increase for all current employees, as well as adjusted salaries based on current market conditions.

More than $5 million will go toward increasing the minimum wage for temporary election workers and increasing hours of operation during the upcoming election.

For weeks now, the commissioners have been hearing about programs to help victims of gun violence, through means like counseling. They allocated $337,000 toward counseling.

The court also approved $500,000 to create a program for people involved in the criminal justice system to find mental health resources, social services and long-term housing. More than $700,000 was allocated toward a pilot mental health program for people who are incarcerated or have left the jail system.

The budget goes into effect Oct. 1.

Editor’s Note: Andy Brown is on the board of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, the parent nonprofit of the Austin Monitor.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

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