PALO PINTO – Palo Pinto County Commissioners on Monday adopted its 2019-2020 budget and affirmed a 2-cent tax rate increase.
The county's new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
The county's property tax rate will go from the current 40 cents per $100 valuation to 42 cents, which officials say will increase overall property tax revenue $995,173, or 8.54%. Of that, $164,715 comes from new property added to the county's tax roll in the past year.
The change in tax rate will mean the owner of a $100,000 home will pay $19.54 more in taxes.
The new tax rate includes 35.97 cents dedicated to the general fund and 6.03 cents for the county's road and bridge fund.
The proposed 2019-2020 budget calls for total spending of $23.2 million – including $15.79 million in general fund expenditures and $3.13 million for road and bridge work within the county's four precincts. Total revenues are projected at $19.6 million. The budget calls for $3.3 million in capital projects spending in 2020.
Commissioners on Monday ratified a $22,500 loan agreement with Addison-based UASWERX to help it develop and begin operating commercial unmanned aerial systems training, testing and flight operations at Mineral Wells Regional Airport.
Commissioners previously agreed to join in the funding pact following a brief pitch from interim Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce President Raymond Greenwood.
The funding agreement to help UASWERX establish an unmanned testing, training and flight center at Mineral Wells Regional Airport.
With the county’s inclusion, the loan amounts agreed to by the City of Mineral Wells, Mineral Wells Industrial Foundation and Envision Mineral Wells are reduced from $30,000 each to $22,500. The loans will be distributed to the company in three installments and are performance based, according to the three-year funding agreement.
UASWERX is obligated under the agreement to establish the “Mineral Wells Innovation Zone” to allow for UAS testing up to 4,000 feet within an area generally described as north to Graford, south to Brazos, east to Weatherford and west to Palo Pinto.
Zone establishment is to occur through a designation of the airport as a “concurrent manned-unmanned operation;” securing FAA approval as an unmanned testing and area outside the Metroplex area’s restricted flight space; and securing designation of the UAS space as an “alert area” for unusual flight operations.
Additionally, the company has agreed to establish a “Mineral Wells UAS WERX UAS Testing Center" to enable drone training, testing and related flight operations and the curriculum necessary to provide training activities.
UASWERX has agreed to repay the loans within 18 months after it becomes operational, which could be extended with permission of the participating entities.
Because of its ideal location, establishing Mineral Wells Regional Airport as a regional commercial drone testing and training center has been a major focus and effort of the airport, city and Envision Mineral Wells through the chamber and is expected to draw major interest from UAS manufacturers and companies engaged in commercial unmanned flight operations.