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Community contests appraisal district's 2020-2021 budget

By Allison Flores

The Cuero Record

A public hearing was held Tuesday, July 21 by the DeWitt County Appraisal District regarding the 2020-2021 proposed budget.

Following public comments, the Board met for their monthly meeting, where they appointed Denise Moore as the new DeWitt County Appraisal District’s Chief Appraiser.

Members of the public were present for the meeting to contest a 3% salary increase that would be included in the $1,273,920 budget for the appraisal district. While the salary raise increase would account for approximately $18,000 of the budget, the district’s budget would increase from the previous year for a total of $33,783.

Comments from the community pertained to the current economic climate, noting that a salary increase for employees of the appraisal district could seem insensitive as some businesses have had to close completely or have lost revenue due to COVID-19.

The Board confirmed that the last salary increase appraisal district employees received was last year, 2019-2020 for an increase of 5%. 

The appraisal district’s budget is solely supported by payments from the local taxing units and compensates ten full-time employees.

The Board addressed the public’s comments, stating that a salary raise is necessary because most employees have reached their maximum salary by completing their training and education hours.

Points were also made from Interim Chief Appraiser, Stephanie Rodriguez regarding DeWitt County’s budget in comparison to surrounding counties’ appraisal districts, stating that DeWitt’s appraisal district’s employee salaries were considerably less.

Board member Pat Elder disagreed, noting that he had done research in comparing the salaries and budgets of surrounding counties as well, and stated that DeWitt County is comparable and not far behind in pay.

As the discussion continued, the Board heard the suggestion of taking the money needed for the salary increase from a reserve fund of the district.

By using the reserve funds, the appraisal district would still increase salary budgets by 3% and would not be receiving those particular funds from the taxing entities in DeWitt County.

Ultimately, the appraisal district Board approved the budget for $1,273,920 which will include a 3% salary pay raise from a reserve fund of the district.

Public comments continued to note that even if the district did not include the salary increase in the 2021 budget, the budget would have to include the funds for the following year.

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