Groundwater District Sets Tax Rate

Contact: Julia Stanford – jstanford@northplainsgcd.org, 806-930-6934

The North Plains Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors met on August 27th to adopt a new tax rate, receive updates on district programs, and plan for the future.

The Board of Directors voted to adopt an effective tax rate of $0.032600 per $100 of property value. An effective tax rate gives the taxing entity the same amount of funds it received the previous year, meaning the rate itself may go up or down depending on property values. Due to property tax reform in the most recent legislative session, the effective rate will be known as the “no-new-revenue tax rate” next year. Within the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District (North Plains GCD), property values increased, so the new tax rate is lower than last year’s $0.033136/$100. Funds received from ad valorem taxes make up a significant part of the district’s budget and supply money to accomplish the district’s mission of “maintaining our quality of life through conservation, protection, and preservation of our groundwater resources.”

Property owners in Texas pay ad valorem taxes each year that fund certain entities that benefit the community. Ad valorem is a Latin phrase translating to “according to value,” which means ad valorem taxes are based upon property value. Every property is taxed by its county and its local school district, and usually exists in the jurisdiction of other taxing units such as hospitals, community colleges, water districts, cities, and fire departments. North Plains GCD taxes all properties within Sherman, Hansford, Ochiltree, Lipscomb counties; and portions of Dallam, Hartley, Moore, and Hutchinson counties. According to the Texas Comptroller’s website, each county’s appraisal district is tasked with estimating the value of all properties within the county. Over the summer, each taxing unit will receive a list of properties and values, and they must adopt tax rates for their operations.

After setting the new tax rate, the directors discussed regional groundwater planning. North Plains GCD is part of the Groundwater Management Area 1 (GMA 1) joint planning group that includes 21 counties in the northern Texas Panhandle and encompasses four groundwater conservation districts. Bob Zimmer is the Vice President of the North Plains GCD board and serves as the district’s representative to GMA 1. Zimmer reported that the planning group had agreed to hire Intera, a geosciences consulting firm, to develop all models for the groundwater planning process. Intera’s groundwater models will be used to develop desired future conditions for groundwater in the area and create the 2021 Panhandle Regional Water Plan.

Steve Walthour, North Plains GCD General Manager, reported on the district’s open well capping program. The district’s Natural Resources Specialists have been locating uncovered, open wells and working with landowners to cap the wells. Open hole wells represent a danger to human and animal life and pose an increased risk of aquifer contamination from surface pollution. Over 60 open wells have been covered this summer.

The next meeting of the North Plains GCD Board of Directors will take place on Tuesday, October 15th at 9:00am. Public comments are always welcome – please visit www.northplainsgcd.org the week before the meeting to view the agenda.