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October 1st will mark the beginning of a new fiscal year for the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District. At the August 8th meeting of the Board of Directors, members discussed and voted on items to wrap up the current fiscal year, adopt a new tax rate, and plan for future budgetary needs.
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 exist in the jurisdiction of other taxing units such as hospitals, community colleges, water districts, cities, and fire departments. 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. The North Plains GCD Board of Directors voted to adopt an effective tax rate of $0.033136 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. Within the North Plains GCD, property values increased, so the new tax rate is lower than last year’s $0.0333714/$100. Funds received from ad valorem taxes make up a significant part of the district’s budget and supply money for programs provided for the public such as water quality testing, 4th grade water festivals, adult education programs, agricultural conservation demonstrations, and more.
As the North Plains GCD fiscal year comes to an end, some expenditures were spent under their budgeted amount. The board voted to reallocate the savings to other parts of the budget, mostly for capital expenses, including the addition of a road and new sign at the North Plains Water Conservation Center, covered parking across the street from the Dumas office, and a replacement vehicle for field staff.
Another money-saving motion passed by the directors affects the Dallam County Priority Groundwater Management Area (PGMA). After being annexed into North Plains GCD in August of 2013, property owners within that area elected not to pay ad valorem taxes to the district. Instead, non-exempt well owners in the PGMA pay fees to the district based on the amount of groundwater pumped, from $1.00 to $5.00 per acre-foot, depending on use. As the effective tax rate has progressively decreased in 2016, 2017, and 2018, it was recommended that the production fees decrease too. The directors approved a 10% reduction in production fees for those well owners within the PGMA starting in 2019.
Other motions approved by the board include a proposal for a new parking structure at the Dumas office, all pending well permits, and the 2018-2019 budget. Reports were given regarding the activities and discussions of the Property Committee and Agriculture Committee. The next meeting of the North Plains GCD Board of Directors will take place on Tuesday, September 11th, at 9:30am at the North Plains Water Conservation Center. Public comments are always welcome – please check www.northplainsgcd.org the week before the meeting to view the agenda.
North Plains Groundwater Conservation District is a regional conservation entity authorized by the Texas Legislature, and dedicated to maintaining our way of life through conservation, protection, and preservation of our groundwater resources. The district is governed by an elected Board of Directors representing the area it serves – Dallam, Sherman, Hansford, Ochiltree, Lipscomb, Hartley, Moore, and Hutchinson counties. For aquifer information, interactive maps, and conservation education, please visit www.northplainsgcd.org.