Nueces County Commissioners met last week to consider the new tax rates for the 2009-10 Fiscal Year, which would include a slight tax rate decrease for the county's tax rate and an increase in the Hospital District tax rate

The proposed tax rates, presented to commissioners at their Aug. 5 meeting, currently recommends the county adopt the effective tax rate of .355259 cents per $100 valuation for the 2009-10 Fiscal Year. This is a .000419 cents per $100 valuation decrease from the current tax rate of .355678 cents per $100.

The effective tax rate is what a county would have to adopt in order to generate the same amount of revenue as the previous fiscal year.

However, the Hospital District is considering a tax rate increase of .009905 cents per $100 over the current tax rate. The proposed tax rate of .154687 cents per $100 valuation is a 7.5 percent increase above the effective tax rate. The increased tax for a $102,205 residence will be about $11, said Steve Waterman, of the Nueces County Commissioners Court administration.

The county is also proposing an "over 65" and a Disability Tax Exemption of $62,500 for both the county and Hospital District, as well as a Homestead Tax Exemption of 20 percent of the home value for both.

Jonny Hipp, chief executive officer for the Hospital District, said the tax increase is needed because the district will have run out of reserve funds after 2013. Hipp said the district used to have upwards of $60 million in reserves, but has seen it dwindle after the county cut the district's tax rate in 2005.

New clinics in Corpus Christi and Robstown were also paid for through funds from the district's reserves, Hipp said.

The district uses most of its funds to pay for health care for those less fortunate, he added.

Waterman informed the court that tax increases such as the proposed 2009-10 tax rate may be necessary over the next few years to make sure the district's budget remains in the black.

County Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve publishing the notices for the proposed tax rates, with Precinct 4 Commissioner Chuck Cazalas voting against it.

After the meeting, Cazalas said he voted against the measure because he wanted to see the county make cuts in its own budget to keep the tax rates the same, rather than "continuing to put the burden on the taxpayers."