Scott Felton

McLennan County Judge Scott Felton looks over a presentation on budget requests.

McLennan County’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget is available for public review after commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to move forward with a proposed 2-cent cut to the property tax rate.

Commissioners set the tax rate at 50.5293 cents per $100 of property value, down two cents from the 2017 rate and down three cents from the 2016 rate. Because of increasing property values, the county would still collect more in property taxes than the past two years.

The proposed budget was filed with the county clerk’s office. However, the document did not make it to the county’s website as planned, County Judge Scott Felton said Tuesday evening. There was a miscommunication between staff, but the document will be on the county’s website Wednesday, Felton said.

The first public hearing on the tax rate will be at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 10 in the commissioners courtroom on the first floor of the McLennan County Courthouse, 501 Washington Ave. The second and final public hearing on the tax rate is set for 9 a.m. Aug. 15.

Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the budget at 9 a.m. Aug. 22, then have their final vote to adopt the budget and tax rate.

The proposed budget includes an estimated beginning fund balance of $40.9 million and an estimated ending fund balance of $32.78 million. The budget projects $69.89 million in tax revenue and another $30.96 million in other revenue. Plans include $99.46 million in expenditures.

Two department heads and three elected officials are set to receive raises.

McLennan County employees will receive a 2.5 percent cost-of-living raise for 2018 under the proposed plan, at a cost of about $1.27 million. Funding for a 2 percent performance-based bonus program, which started last year, was also included in the budget. At least 35 county employees were approved for individual raises on top of the cost-of-living adjustment for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

Sports Commission

Before filing the proposed budget, commissioners bumped up their allocation to the Greater Waco Sports Commission from $75,000 to $100,000.

The nonprofit works to find and attract new sporting events while enhancing and retaining existing events to generate positive economic impact and enhance quality of life, said Will Phipps, Greater Waco Sports Commission executive director. Phipps came before commissioners Tuesday requesting the extra money to support the nonprofit’s work to bring an Ironman Triathlon to Waco.

Winning the bid would bring about 7,500 visitors to the area over a three-day weekend, resulting in an economic impact of about $2.5 million for the first year, Phipps said. Most people who enter the triathlon have disposable income and are likely to visit the area multiple times before the event to practice, he said.

Phipps said the city of Waco and the nonprofit would match the county’s contribution if the event comes to Waco. Organizers should know in the next few weeks which locations win the bid to host the long-distance triathlon.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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