On Tuesday the Bexar County manager unveiled a budget proposal that would lower the county’s property tax rate in fiscal 2015.
The proposed budget includes investments in law enforcement, mental health programs and the justice system.
Next year’s budget proposes to lower the property tax rate by 1.2 cents per $100 valuation after commissioners voted unanimously for a deeper cut than that recommended by the county manager.
Under the county manager’s proposal, the budget would increase public safety spending with the addition of 20 new law enforcement positions, two new patrol substations in East and West Bexar County, upgrades to the radio system and body armor, tasers, and guns for sheriff’s deputies.
The budget would add 24/7 clinical assessments for mentally ill individuals coming through the magistrate’s office to divert people from jail into treatment when appropriate. It adds a mental health public defender and the creation of a Child and Family Court Division.
The budget also addresses needs created by the Michael Morton Act, an unfunded mandate that the county said has created an influx in jail population due to an increased indictment time in some felony cases.
The budget also allows for step pay increases for some county employees and the creation of a Neighborhood Support Unit with five new positions.
County Judge Nelson Wolff said an improvement in the economy has increased the tax base and allowed commissioners to reduce the tax rate for the coming year.
Commissioners will now go through work sessions on the nearly $1.7 million dollar budget before adopting the final version and the new tax rate on September 16.