From Weatherford Democrat, by Judy Sheridan Wed Oct 12, 2011 -
Precinct 3 Commissioner John Roth brought the $827,595 shortfall to light after spotting a difference between the $23,441,924 figure released by Parker County Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Larry Hamonds and the $24,269,519 figure in Judge Riley’s proposed budget.
He asked Hammonds to come to court Tuesday to help resolve the discrepancy.
“One of these numbers isn’t right,” he told commissioners. “If we’re off by $827,000, we’re in for a world of hurt.”
After a recess where Hammonds and County Auditor Mike Rhoten discussed the matter, Hammonds told the court that the two men agreed that their revenue projections differed with respect to supplemental values and the over 65 levy, calculated on property that is “frozen” in value.
He said later that Rhoten made two errors, adding the $136 million estimated from supplemental values in twice and putting the entire tax levy expected from those older than 65 into the general fund, instead of diverting 20 percent to the interest and sinking fund for bonds.
Rhoten said he used the adjusted tax base of $8,029,286,453, published Aug. 9 by the appraisal district, in making his calculations, but didn’t realize the figure included the supplemental values.
“And as far as [a percentage of the] over-65 [tax levy going to interest and sinking] I’ve never heard of that,” he said. “That was the first time I heard that.”
The auditor said he would take the blame for the mistake, but stressed that communication needed to improve with the appraisal district.
“After what happened today,” he said, “I’m not going to do any more calculations without a door open there,”
About $360,000 of the difference in revenues is due to doubling the estimated supplemental values, Hammonds said, and about $468,000 to putting all the over-65 levy into the general fund.
Supplemental values may increase by another $35 million, Hammonds told the court, after appraisal protests are heard, increasing revenues.
“And I think his [Rhoten’s] estimate of delinquent taxes may be a little conservative,” he said. “That might help you make that up.”
“I noticed it during the budget,” Roth told the Democrat later, “and I asked what the difference was, but there was no answer. It’s a significant difference. I don’t want us to get caught draining the fund balance.”
The way to rectify the difference, Roth said, will be by making cuts.
During his presentation to the court, Roth told commissioners that it may not be the first time such an error has been made.
“I think we may have done the same thing last year,” he said.