Bexar County Commissioners Tuesday approved a new budget which includes a reduction in the property tax rate, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.
The rate is a reduction of 1.2 cents per $100 valuation in Bexar County property taxes. If approved, the new budget, and the lower tax rate, will kick in in October.
County Judge Nelson Wolff credited a strong economy and the completion of public works programs which the county accelerated during the recent recession in hopes of saving and creating jobs, and taking advantage of low interest rates.
"We have rounded the corner in recovery from the economic recession," Wolff Said. "Our economy is strong as we see through the increase in our tax base, so I see cutting the tax rate as the only prudent thing to do for taxpayers."
The slimmer budget includes the addition of twenty new positions in the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, including positions in patrol, white-collar crimes, and in the habitual offender program. The budget also calls for two new Sheriff's patrol substations on the east and west sides of the county.
Wolff says with San Antonio no longer aggressively annexing in the county, the population of unincorporated Bexar County is skyrocketing, passing a quarter million and becoming more 'urban-like,' a situation he says requires investment in infrastructure.
The new budget also includes creation of a Baby Court in the County Court at Law system to handle cases of child abuse and neglect. Focused courts centering on drug crimes have been successful in dealing with the root causes of these issues.
Commissioners also created increased funding for mentally ill individuals in the County Jail, something retiring Commissioner Tommy Adkisson has been fighting for for years.
"This is a really brilliant and long overdue move to get a Mental Health Department going," Adkisson said.
Adkisson has long argued that as many as half of the roughly 4,000 inmates in the jail at any one time are there because they are suffering from mental health issues, and effective treatment would help stop them from being released, only to come right back to jail.