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Eckhardt praises provisional county budget, hints at tougher times ahead

Thursday, August 25, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt hailed the county’s financial stewardship during a lunchtime press conference on Tuesday, saying that her Commissioners Court has “set a bold path” in putting together next year’s budget. “We will not increase the county’s portion of the tax bill for the average taxable homestead for the third consecutive year,” Eckhardt bragged, touting the proposed tax rate of 38.38 cents per $100 of valuation, lower than the 2016 rate. She noted that the county’s budget office had managed to propose the rate even in the face of growing cost drivers, including, she said, an unexpected increase in the average length of stays at the county jail. Eckhardt said a task force is already looking into that issue and possible solutions. Despite Eckhardt’s positive take on the ongoing budget cycle, she signaled that less pleasant days could be ahead. During a discussion of the budget during the court’s regular Tuesday voting session, Eckhardt said, “Next year, we are unlikely to do what we’ve done in the past three years. We do have pent-up demand, we’ll be on-boarding some new county officials who will have initiatives and we also have the Legislature in town.”

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