Bexar County Commissioners approve $1.68 billion budget for 2014

Budget includes raises for all county employees

Bexar County Commissioners approved a $1.6 billion budget for 2014.
Bexar County Commissioners approved a $1.6 billion budget for 2014.

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a $1.68 billion budget for fiscal year 2014.

The budget maintains the county's current tax rate of 32.6 cents per $100 valuation, but tax bills will go up because home values have increased.

"Personally, I would have liked to have lowered it a little bit," said Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff. "Folks need to know that while we in the county aren't touching their tax rate taxes are still increasing because the value of their property has increased. The only way to combat that is to lower the tax rate."

Although the county is spending nearly $200 million less next year, general fund expenses will increase.

A portion of the increase includes raises for all county employees, something the county has not been able to do since 2008.

County commissioners expressed satisfaction with the budget, especially the public safety portion.

The Bexar County Sheriff's Office's budget will be $120 million.

Sheriff Susan Pamerleau said her budget puts an emphasis on efficiency and increased public safety.

"This budget, for us, represents a significant improvement in efficiency for the sheriff's office," Pamerleau said. "Rather than asking for more people we ask for more technology, automation, equipment."

The county will use nearly $150 million for road and highway projects.

Commissioners said they would have liked to spend less, and blamed dysfunction in the Texas legislature for having to shell out so much money.

"The state legislature has to step up and say, 'Ok we're going to increase the gasoline tax or we're going to do something of that sort,'" said Precinct 2 Commissioner Paul Elizondo. "We're pretty well maxed out, in so far as income, to spend on that."