EL PASO, Texas - County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday morning to set the proposed tax rate for the county and the County Hospital District, doing business as University Medical Center.
The proposed rates are the maximum commissioners will be able to implement as the budget negotiations continue. The rates will be finalized before the next fiscal year starts in October.
Commissioners approved the effective tax rate of $0.456126 per $100 of home valuation for the county tax rate ceiling, which would bring in the same amount of property tax revenue as last year.
They also approved the rollback tax rate of $0.234457 per $100 home value for the UMC rate ceiling, the maximum amount taxes could be increased before taxpayers could hold an election to vote on the increase.
The county's effective tax rate is about about four tenths of a cent higher than last year's adopted rate of $0.452694 per $100 home value, caused by a reduced overall property tax base.
That base, the value of the taxable properties in the county, fell from $38,597,988,929 to $38,217,097,790 over the past year, about $380 million less.
UMC's tax rate ceiling represents and increase of about five percent over last year's adopted rate $0.220682 per $100 of home value. There was also a property tax base reduction there, but UMC is facing major budget problems going into the coming fiscal year.
Even with the increase, the county hospital is still facing an $18 million dollar deficit. That shortfall will have to come out of UMC's cash reserves, leaving them with just over a month of cash on hand.
"We have been working on our budget for the past few weeks. And as we've stated on a few occasions, we are actually probably going to go below the effective tax rate," County Judge Veronica Escobar said, "So most county taxpayers who's property values did not go up, and for many of whom saw a decrease in their appraisal, will again see a savings on their county tax bill."
Commissioners will be meeting with UMC officials again Tuesday morning to further discuss the budget and tax rate.