Tarrant County commissioners approve government and hospital district’s budgets, tax cuts

Tarrant County commissioners gave a final stamp of approval Tuesday to the county and JPS Health Network’s budgets and tax rates for the 2024 fiscal year.

This is the first time in years that the health network has lowered its tax rate. It’s also the first time a tax rate deduction will result in a lower property tax bill for Tarrant County homeowners, despite rising home appraisal values.

The county property tax rate and the hospital district’s tax rate will be 19.45 cents per $100 of assessed value, a decrease of almost 3 cents compared to last year’s tax rate. Additionally, a 10% homestead exemption is in place for the county and hospital district after county commissioners approved the tax break in June. Each tax will cost the owner of a $350,000 home with a homestead exemption $613.

The new tax rates are below the so-called no new revenue tax rate, which would produce the same revenue as the previous year.

The county passed a $896.6 million budget for 2024 that includes raises for both county employees and its elected officials. Budgets for public safety and the county’s judicial system will increase in 2024, but community services will receive a cut.

The hospital’s budget passed with an amendment from Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare, who stipulated that the hospital’s community projects fund be limited. There is no reference to a “community projects fund” on the budget preview that the health network has publicly released. The Star-Telegram has requested a copy of the hospital’s complete budget for 2024, but the district has not released a document that details the line items of its $1.95 billion spending plan.

The health network’s budget for 2024 is $1.54 billion for operating expenses, the majority of which pays for the salaries of the thousands of employees employed by the district. Another $41 million will go toward the health network’s capital budget.

The board of managers for the hospital district initially opted to keep a flat tax rate for the hospital district, of 22.4429 cents per $100 of assessed value. But Tarrant County commissioners, who have the final say on the hospital district’s tax rate, rejected that tax rate last month and instead lowered it to match the county’s tax rate.

Hospital officials have said the reduced tax rate will not affect the health network’s service availability or its long-term plans, which include a bond program that will build a new hospital and numerous other buildings. The renovation and expansion projects are funded by $800 million in voter-approved bonds, and the remainder of the work will be paid for by the hospital’s cash reserves.

JPS is one of the busiest hospitals in Tarrant County, and it is the county’s only hospital district, meaning that it can directly levy property taxes to help fund its operations. In the 2024 budget, about 35% of the health network’s revenue will come from property taxes, according to a JPS presentation.